Sunday, March 10, 2013

Visiting a Maple Sugar Shack

We went to tour a local sugar shack; something I've been wanting to do for a while now.  Even though I live in New England and have for my whole entire life I have never been to a sugar shack.


We were all very excited to learn how maple syrup! 


We called ahead to make sure they would be making maple syrup today-- it's really not worth visiting  if they aren't making syrup that day so it's best to call ahead.  

It was well into the afternoon before we were all ready to get out of the house.

I wanted to take the boys to a Sugar shack last year to watch them make maple syrup but we ended up looking around too late in the season and we missed it!  This year I started calling around early and was so excited when I found out they were making syrup today.  

The man even asked what time I thought we'd be stopping by so they'd be sure to save some for us to watch!  

As soon as we pulled up we could see all the "smoke" coming out of the chimneys, it was so picturesque with all the snow around it.  The boys went right up and looked in one of the tubs; commenting that it must be sap in that tub since it didn't smell like syrup at all.  



We went in and noticed the sweet, sweet smell of maple syrup right away.  We were given a nice tour of the process without even asking; once they realized we had never seen a sugar shack before.  

What a wonderful New England experience I have been missing out on!  

 I was amazed at how thorough they were and how engaging it was for the boys. He explained how it was the Native Americans who discovered that maple sap would turn nice and sweet when boiled and showed us the type of tap they would have used back then.   He then passed a wooden tap around for them to feel and see. 

Evan checks out the wooden tap


The sap is at a rolling boil

  • We were told that the trees produce the sap to make the leaves on the tree and that this is the time to gather sap since the trees are starting to get ready to produce leaves.  
  • Sap flows the best during times when it's warm and sunny during the day and freezing at night.  
We then learned that from wooden taps they went on to make metal ones and they have a tree right in the shack set up with holes, wooden taps, metal taps, buckets, and the newer tubing process they use now.  He showed the boys how they would tap each tree with a tube and run them together with each tube getting bigger until they finally all met in one bucket.

It takes 40 gallons to make 1 gallon of syrup!

He then brought us outside to show us how they use distillation (like cruise ships do to convert sea water to drinking water) to reduce the water content in the sap so they don't have to boil it as long to get syrup.  It's also known as reverse osmosis and the boys were delighted to realize it was the bin they were first looking at and that they were right; it was sap not syrup.  He scooped some up and showed us how they use a gauge to determine how much water is in the mixture.  It was neat to see what looked like an ordinary thermometer floating up through the water/ sap mixture.

We then headed inside and over to the stove where they were just pouring out a batch of syrup.  He opened the wood stove door so the boys could see the fire and feel how hot it gets.  We could see the sap boiling and there was even a tiny window we could look through and see the sap running.  He even showed them where the syrup goes after it cools to be filtered and poured off into other containers.

We saw all the products they make; syrup (of course), maple/peanut brittle, maple sugar candies, maple salad dressing, and we even got to try maple flavored cotton candy (now I don't like maple or cotton candy but for some reason with the two put together it's like heaven!).

We bought some candy and some cotton candy and while he made us a fresh bag of cotton candy the boys looked around the maple sugar shack some more.  Alec spotted some snowshoes and asked what they were and what they were for.  Evan noticed all the different saw blades hanging around the place and told us what he thought they were for and how they were used.  Drawing on knowledge from shows like Ax Men and other cartoons.

It was a wonderful, and short, trip to our local maple sugar shack.  What a sweet ending to our Sunday!



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23 comments :

  1. I love that place. The great thing about it is that the owner is so enthusiastic about what he does, it's wonderful. I can't wait to go again this year.

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  2. I'd love to go check this out sometime as well. Seems like a refined and simple process all at the same time! #fabfridaypost

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    1. It was really neat to see; I've heard of other places where we can even go out in the woods and help collect/ harvest the sap!

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  3. Sounds like a wonderful field trip! We enjoy such trips, though I don't think we have any sugar shacks in our area of the Midwest. My sister makes syrup at her place in the north and I hear of how much work it is... but how wonderful the syrup is also. :)

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    1. Funny enough I can not stand Maple Syrup! I do use a bit here and there in baking and my husband and boys just love it.

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  4. What a great field trip!! I think these outings are so beneficial---even for the adults! Doesn't it make you appreciate maple syrup in a whole new eye now??
    jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com
    #fandayfriday

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    1. Absolutely! So much work goes into it all.

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  5. I took my boys to the maple sugar farm every spring when they were little. They loved getting little maple syrup treats and of course, a bottle of maple syrup to take home for pancakes. Lovely post! #FanDayFriday

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    1. My boys were quite thrilled to see all the maple flavored things they sell.

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  6. This is on my bucket list to do with the kids!

    #fabfriday

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    1. It was definitely worth going; I had it on our bucket list for a few years and kept either putting it off or missing the window of opportunity.

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  7. You just brought back great memories for me! Years ago we were on vacation and took our kids to a sugar shack. Unfortunately, it wasn't maple sugaring time, but we learned a lot of fun facts about maple sugaring AND the most fascinating part was the network of thin hoses from tree to tree in the woods out back.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. We see the hoses out a lot while we're out driving; it's amazing to see how many trees some places are able to tap and run hose to hose from.

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  8. This sounds so fun! I told my husband they have maple syrup cotton candy and I think he's planning the trip now. 😆
    Thanks for linking up to #fridayfrivolity! Xx

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  9. Wow! I had no idea Maple was made this way. How very interest! What a lucky kid! I am now converted from average golden syrups to good quality maple. It is delicious!! Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost

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    1. Yep... lots and lots of boiling! I had no idea just how much water was in the maple sap and all the work required to get it down to syrup.

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  10. I LOVE visiting cabane au sucres. So good! I grew up in Montreal so they are a way of life. Maple taffy on snow are what MAKES winter for me :)

    Thanks for sharing at #bloggerspotlight

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    1. We had maple taffy on snow in Quebec once; it was delicious!

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  11. What a wonderful field trip! I am so far from New England but if I ever make it over there this would be a great activity! Thanks so much for sharing at the Friday at the Fire Station link-up!
    Jen
    www.afiremanswife.com

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    1. I assumed with the pretty little flip you must be living where it's nice and warm and sunny... but if you do ever travel up north towards the end of winter it is a pretty neat activity to see.

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