Monday, March 10, 2014

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.