My mother and I took a little visit to the Sandy Flat Sugar bush in Warkworth, Ontario this weekend.
Visiting a sugar bush during maple season is one of the many, fun traditional things to do in this area and a great way to support the preservation of good old-fashioned Canadian culture.
The season for tapping maple trees is very short, usually only about a month long, at the very beginning of Spring. During this time, due to the cool nights and warm days, the sap becomes under pressure and is forced to run out of the trees. Only three of the thirteen native maple trees in Canada are used for producing syrup.
The Canadian country landscape is really quite beautiful, which I think a lot of people who live here take for granted. I know I definitely did in my earlier days. When visiting a maple bush, there is usually a hiking trail that visitors can take a walk through.
Our forests are magical, always changing with the seasons, reminding us of the cycle of life, death and renewal. And some of our trees make sugar syrup! Candy straight from nature.
There are no additives used to make maple syrup, and it is considered a healthier alternative to sugar and has a lower glycemic index. I actually never use sugar for anything. Instead, I always bake and sweeten with maple syrup.
Syrup is made by boiling the sap until the water evaporates. It takes about 40 litres of sap to make one litre of syrup. The traditional way of producing syrup is shown below: by boiling it in a cauldron over a fire. This is still the way that some people with private property containing lots of sugar maple trees will do it at home.
The log next to the fire shows how the Native Americans would boil the sap : by placing hot stones from a fire into a hallowed-out trunk with the sap.
Here is an image of a traditional way of tapping syrup into a bucket vs. a more modern method, with lines that transport the sap to large machines for processing.
Sandy Flat Sugar bush has a pancake house where they serve breakfast with their real maple syrup. We decided to split a breakfast, which was extremely unhealthy and mediocre, unfortunately. But it was a good vehicle to eat the maple syrup on, which was divine.