I recently took a road trip with my boyfriend to O’Hara Sugar Maples farm in Madoc, ON. Mid March is when Maple Syrup producers get ready for the upcoming harvesting season, and the yearly Sugar Bush festivities commence.
As a child I had the chance to visit a maple syrup farm during a school trip, but all I remember from it were tin buckets hanging on trees, a horse drawn carriage ride, and that to get maple syrup all you had to do was boil sap until it thickened into sweet, sticky goo. Pretty simple.
However, on our visit to O’Hara’s, as soon as we pulled onto the road leading up to the production (sugar) house, I saw how elaborate and sophisticated this process has become since my last visit to a maple syrup farm.
Trees are tapped with “lines” (tubes) that lead to much bigger lines, and these funnel the sap from the trees through down to the production line via the “extractor”, a vacuum like machine – O’Hara’s Sugar Maples have about 44 Kilometres of lines running throughout their trees!
It then flows through to an osmosis machine where as much water as possible is reduced. Once this process takes place, the sap is sent to the boiler to be boiled down into delicious, lip smacking, maple syrup. Prior to being bottled, the syrup passes through a finishing system to ensure it’s crystal clear.
MAPLE SYRUP FACTS
- 40 litre of sap = 1 litre of maple syrup
- Sap looks just like water. If you were to put a glass of water next to a glass of sap, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
- If your maple syrup has mold on it, you don’t need to toss it. Just remove the mold and re-boil it to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Contains trace amounts of minerals and vitamins including vitamins B2, B5, B6, riboflavin, amino acids, manganese, folic acid, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron.
- Great to use as a sugar substitute in cooking and baking.
- If you get a bottle of maple syrup with crystals at the bottom, it’s considered a good thing – it’s sugar crystals!
Heather and her colleague were incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. They explained the process in perfect detail and the story of their maple syrup making history. Aside from maple syrup, O’Hara’s makes maple candy and maple butter (which has won numerous awards). I’ve never tried maple butter and will definitely have to make another trip to get my hands on some.
After seeing the entire process, we were able to enjoy a fresh, warm sample of a medium syrup which definitely enticed us to purchase a 1L bottle. Immediately, all I could think of was “what can I pour this stuff over and devour?!” I thought of a few cakes I could make, but that would take some time. Eventually I decided that a nice fresh stack of waffles would be perfect. Check back soon for a follow-up post with the recipe!
I have not received any commission for writing this post, nor do I have any material connection to the brands and products mentioned. All views and opinions expressed are my own.