Sugaring Off

 When the sun shifts in the sky and the first hints of spring are in the air, it is time for sugaring off to begin.  The Blog Tech and I read about a Taste and Tour going on up in the highlands and headed out early to take part in it.

 Sugaring off is the process of turning maple sap into maple sugar.  This area is called the "land of milk and maple". There were 14 sugar shacks on the tour.

Getting to some of the shacks was an adventure on it's own.  They tend to be out in the woods at the end of long winding roads.  The area is breathtakingly beautiful.
Finally we caught sight of the first sugar shack.  Notice the tapped maple trees with the buckets hanging on them collecting the sap.  (click to enlarge any photos) You can see the large smoke stack on top of the shack.

 A warming tank holding hot maple syrup.

 Joel was just setting things up when we got there.

 You can see the wood fire burning through the window on the door.

 The buckets are stacked neatly against the wall.

 I thought they looked very artistic.

 These are the vats where the sap is boiled down and turned into syrup.

 Sap fresh from the tree has only 2% sugar content.

 It takes 50 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup.

 This is the liquid gold in the bottom of the vat after it is boiled down.

 This is where the syrup comes out.

 These are the spiles which are nailed into the tree and the bucket is hung from the hook on them.

 This was The Blog Techs favorite part of this sugar shack.  He had already eaten most of the maple syrup from this sunday.  The wonderful people that own this shack give you big scoops of vanilla ice cream and let you top it with hot syrup from the warmer I showed you above.  And BTW, this entire tour was free.  Each shack we visited offered a feast of food, all made with maple syrup, all free! This shack also fed us pretzels with maple mustard, maple blondies and maple cookies

As we were leaving the evaporator was running and the telltale cloud of smoke hovered over the sugar shack. It is such fun to seek out these shacks. I get goosebumps each time I see the smoke from a distance. 
So, off we went in search of the next shack.  I will post much more tomorrow.


Anonymous said…
oh my gosh, is the sap running?? not here yet but the sound of the hot syrup on ice cream, oooo la la!!!!When I saw the sap buckets pile up in the shack it made my heart squeeze, we tapped our trees at home, BIG job but oh so good!!! Thanks so much for taking us with you on your trip,
sandra hagan said…
Sugaring, sugar shack, vanilla ice cream, hot maple syrup, tell tale smoke rising from a sugar is all to wonderful for me.

Thanks for sharing, love it.
sandra hagan said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cottage Tails said…
WOW I never knew it takes 50 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup. Looks like a fab day out!
Ellen in Oregon said…
I enjoy seeing all the trips you & the Blog Tech have taken. Nothing is better than sharing time with your kids & creating great memories.
When I was a kid growing up in Upstate NY, it was an annual event for my parent to take all 6 kids & drive over to VT to visit the sugar shacks. I still remember the little maple candies shaped like maple leaves the shack owner used to hand out along with maple cake donuts & hot apple cider. It's so nice to hear that sugar shack owners still carry on the tradition half a century later.

Patty Woodland said…
The hubby used to sugar when he lived in Vermont. He is a maple syrup snob.
Anonymous said…
I would feel like being in heasven if I could visit such a place :-) We don't have those maples over here but I've found out some do the same with Birch sap over here. Unfortunately they only sell to restaurants, I have really tried to find someone selling it to us that don't own a restaurant :-)

Very interesting and I'm looking forward to more :-)

Have a great day!
Avalonschild said…
Sounds like so much yummy fun :) We have no sugar maples in our area but we are going out today to tap the Birch trees to make Birch syrup.
Barb said…
What fun! When we lived in Upstate NY we actually did the sugaring with some friends that made just enough for family use. Nothing like the operation you visited. My children were young and it was so much fun making the syrup. I think we had enough for only one meal.
Guillaume said…
Oh I love a good trip to the sugar shack! And I miss here the many products of maple syrup we have in Québec, especially maple butter.
Nellie said…
What a great trip! We have been to a maple festival several years ago. It was such fun!
Fascinating. What an interesting trip. The things we take for granted.
I do hope you know that you keep me from going nuts sometimes. I never get out and about and I get to go on these fantastic jaunts and explore with you and Blog Tech. AND, you don't have to listen to me yammer in your ears! :)
I loved seeing this. I wish they sold log cabin syrup in the log cabin cans like they used to when I was little. LOVED those cans..

Nothing like real syrup.
Jennifer said…
That all sounds so wonderful! And I love the name "sugar shack" :)
luckybunny said…
That's a huge set up!! Whoa. Nice. I want that ice cream too - YUMMM!