Even amid the toughest days of late winter, nature is summoning surprises for the days ahead. One of the sweetest among them is Ontario maple syrup season!
Maple syrup -- often touted as one of nature’s super foods -- is made from the sap of majestic sugar maple trees. It is quite common for farms in the St. Jacobs area to boast an entire woodlot of maple trees, known as the “sugar bush”, as part of a producing farm. Maple syrup is delectably thick and sweet; a favourite pancake topping, awesome over ice cream, in coffee or wherever you might use sugar. Maple syrup can also be used to make maple taffy, maple butter, maple sugar and many other delicious maple products.
Maple syrup season only happens once year, typically March – April, and the production of maple syrup itself requires considerable expertise, precise timing, and hard work.
As snow melts during warming days, and nighttime temperatures continue to dip below freezing, sap begins to flow within the maple trees, creating perfect conditions to ‘tap’ the trees and collect some of the clear watery sap. Boiling the sap down to create maple syrup is a long and laborious process which is typically done in "sugar shacks" using modern evaporator systems. But that wasn’t always the case.
At the MAPLE SYRUP MUSEUM in St. Jacobs, you can see fine examples of artifacts used by Indigenous people to collect and boil the sap. There you can also view methods of production used by pioneering settlers -- with whom Indigenous people shared their knowledge -- as well as later and more modern methods of production.
The Maple Syrup Museum is only one example of why St. Jacobs – located in Woolwich Township - is an excellent place to visit to experience this season.
TASTE! EXPERIENCE! LEARN! CELEBRATE!
Plan a daytrip or getaway soon to take in these maple-related activities:
Take a SUGAR BUSH TOUR with St. Jacobs Horsedrawn Tours, departing from St. Jacobs Farmers' Market (Saturdays until April 13), to a real sugar bush.
The world’s largest 1-day MAPLE SYRUP FESTIVAL takes place in Elmira, Ontario, on Saturday April 6, 2019. Explore an entire main street mall filled with local food and craft booths, maple products straight from the farm, a pancake and maple syrup tent, and lots of family-friendly activities.
“MAPLE WEEKEND" FARM VISITS
Scout some rural routes across southern Ontario to local participating farms where you may see maple syrup production in action on site. Meet the people who make it and take some home to enjoy. Truly a tree to table experience!
Maple Weekend takes place April 6 & 7, 2019. In the area, look for Snyder Heritage Farms, Winding Road Farm, and Sugarwoods, all within approx 10 kms of St. Jacobs. Check individual farms for activities and hours specific to their operations or follow Ontario Maple Syrup on social media. If you go, share your favourite photos with #sweetontario!
EAT & SHOP for delicious locally-produced maple syrup products all year around at St. Jacobs Farmers' Market and The Farm Pantry in St. Jacobs. Check out the Stone Crock Bakery in the village of St. Jacobs too, for delicious maple syrup muffins in season.