I was speaking with my father last night who lives in the Quebec Laurentians – the heart of sugar bush country – and it looks like syrup producers are poised and ready for take-off this week!
My Dad and good friend John tapped about 800 trees yesterday and have another 200, or so, to do today before they finish up.
From what I can tell, the season is at least 2 weeks later than last year, but hey, better late than never right?
Ah, there is nothing like the maple syrup time of year, if you ask me, and I have spent more years than I can recall working in the sugar bush. Times I will never forget..
What a blast it used to be – running lines, repairing breaks, tapping, watching the evaporater, taking the syrup off and even canning. The whole operation is a joy right down to the moment when that first batch of maple syrup comes off…man it tastes great when its warm!
There is a certain amount of science involved in a maple syrup operation; from understanding the sugar content in sap at various times of the year, knowing the colour and taste of grade ‘A’ syrup, to ‘old-school’ skills like knowing how to build and maintain the perfect fire for your evaporator.
Then it is moment(many hours later) when the ‘webbing starts’ at precisely 7 degrees above the boiling point of water, and your pure maple syrup is ripe for the picking!
Old school syrup producers have never used these modern gauges and I’m sure never worried about it either. They can read more in the webbing off their ladle than a thousand sophisticated gauges could ever read..now that is pure science.
The final product, well, it is simply a thing of beauty and there is really nothing in the world that compares to the taste of fresh maple syrup, or taffy on snow.
Canada produces 90% of the world’s supply of maple syrup(mostly from QC) – a statistic we should be very proud of. It is a big part of our heritage like hunting, fishing or the fur industry.