Have You Ever Visited a Sugar Shack?

Even though I have always lived in New Brunswick, which apparently is one of the three largest producers of maple syrup in the world, I had never been to a Sugar Shack.

I couldn’t let another spring go by without visiting one, so we booked a tour, bundled up and headed out to a local maple syrup producing facility, also know as a sugar shack.

Because, by nature I ask a thousand questions, before heading out, I had to find out where the term “sugar shack” originated. So, if you’re like me and want to know, this is the answer —A sugar shack, also known as sap house, sugar house, sugar shanty or sugar cabin (French: cabane à sucre) is a semi-commercial establishment, prominent mainly in Eastern Canada.

Before I show you some of the pics from our outing, if you are interested, here is a little history on the making of maple syrup.

Several varieties of maple trees can be tapped for their sap and there is a short window, of a few weeks, to collect it. This is because the sap is only running when the temperature drops below freezing at night and rises above 0 degrees Celsius during the day.

Sugar Shack

In this photo, you can see the pale blue tubing running through the maple grove and just one of the many, many collection buckets.

The sap is collected via a series of spigots tapped into the trees and attached to hollow tubes which carry the maple sap through the maple grove and into buckets. The actual syrup is produced by the evaporation and concentration of the harvested maple sap.

That how it is done today, hundreds of years ago, it was done a little differently.

Sugar Shack

Our tour guide, walking us through a depiction of how the sap was processed hundreds of years ago.

Upon the arrival of the White People in Canada, First Nations people gave them the basic techniques of making maple syrup. At the time, instead of drilling small holes they had to make larger notches in the trunks, then direct the sap with wooden troughs or chips into bark basket or wooden bowl collecting vessels. Some cultures made pottery that would have been useful for gathering sap. The sap was then poured into a clay bowl and placed over a wood fire to be boiled until it became a delicious golden syrup.

Sugar Shack

Today the sap is processed in this huge cauldron like contraption which is complete with all the implements of modern technology.

Sugar Shack

Our guide poured maple sugar into the snow where it became a thick consistency that we could roll up on a stick for a sweet, tasty treat.

Sugar Shack

YUM!

Sugar Shack

After the tour we went back to a lodge located on the property and had pancakes and freshly produced maple syrup.

I guess I must have been quite hungry because when I went through my photos there wasn’t one picture of my pancakes and syrup.  I guess I gobbled them down so quickly I forgot to snap a photo. But let me tell you, the maple syrup was so delicious!

Have you ever gone on a tour of a sugar shack?

What about maple syrup, are you a fan?

Have you ever had syrup produced by a tree other than maple? Apparently, you can also tap birch, butternut, and sycamore trees.

Comments

  1. That was my first trip to a sugar shack tour. It was very interesting. With all the work involved in making the delicious syrup, it’s a wonder why it’s not even more expensive than it is. So glad I got to go.

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