Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cabane à sucre (Sugar Shack)


One of kids' favorite seasons in Québec is this time of the year, from March to the end of April. Actually, I should correct myself and say for both children and adults. It's maple syrup season!!! I don't know any locals who don't like maple syrup. I can't express to you how much I love maple syrup! When I first learned that my husband got a job in Canada, my first thought was, "Great! They have the best maple syrup there!" (Is that really more important than my husband's work?) I add it to my oatmeal, pancakes, waffles, when baking, just about anything that needs to be sweetened!!! Don't get me wrong, I'm not the kind of person who eats sicky-sweet kinds of things. In fact, I'm not even a big fan of desserts, but the taste and the smell of maple syrup is somehow irresistible to me.

The province of Québec is by far the largest producer of maple syrup in the world. There are many sugar shacks all over Canada and Québec; most of the sugar shacks are only open for these 2 months, but there are a few exceptions that are open all year round. A good friend of ours just took us to one only a few minutes' drive from us, in a park (Parc du Bois-de-Coulonge). We had driven past this park many times; from the entrance, it looked like a small park, and we never thought about entering. But after going there, we realized how large the park was, and the walk was beautiful! We even walked to the edge of the park, which was a cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence river, and the view was breathtaking!!!

One of the many things I love about Québec is that there are many beautiful parks, even though the city is not considered big. When we lived in NYC, there was only a handful of parks--of course, the most famous one is Central Park, then there's Riverside Park, but beyond those, there aren't that many that are as large, as beautiful, and as well  maintained.

A walk in the park                                                maple tap          

When we arrived at the park, there were already many parents with their kids. After paying the entrance fee, we were each given one popsicle stick and some wet naps. We then followed the line of people into an area with a lot of wooden tables. Fresh ice was shoveled and flattened on the table tops. Next, they poured strips of hot maple syrup (boiled to about 112° C) over the ice. After about 30 seconds, everyone started to take their popsicle stick, press it onto a strip, and slowly roll it up. That's the famous tire d'érable (maple taffy, sugar on snow), a traditional confection in Quebec. I had had one when I first arrived in Vieux Québec (the Old City), but this one was so much better than that! The flavor was much more intense: with a little bit of snow mixed in as the tire d'érable melts in your mouth, it is a totally different experience and taste! The texture is a little gluey and soft. It was so good that I gobbled down four of them within the first 10 minutes!! For those of you who've never had it before, there's a technique to it; you have to eat the popsicle while aiming it downward, or it'll drip all over you as it melts very quickly, and of course, you have to rush while you eat it, as well.

We also went inside the sugar shack to see how the tree sap is turned into syrup. The sap is boiled over an open fire, and it takes about 20-50 litres of sap to make one litre of maple syrup. The process is quite time-consuming. 
Maple shack                                                Inside maple shack

Reducing maple sap into maple syrup
Grade A maple syrup
Grade B maple syrup

If you're planning to visit Quebec in the spring, are interested in learning about maple syrup, and would like to try the famous tire d'érable, this would be a good time to visit one of the sugar shacks.

Visit these websites to plan your trip:


Anonymous said...

Hi there! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after browsing through some of the articles I realized it's new to me.
Regardless, I'm definitely happy I discovered it and I'll be
bookmarking it and checking back frequently!

Also visit my site: Email Console

Anonymous said...

This information is worth everyone's attention. How can I find out more?

My blog post; Helpful Site