It is fitting that the phrase “As Canadian as Maple Syrup” be used to describe a trip to the sugar bush, a quintessentially Canadian activity that heralds the beginning of spring in our country. It is also appropriate that it is the stately maple, the very symbol of Canada, that gives us one of our country’s classic culinary delights.
Pure Maple Syrup is a natural sweetener that is 100% free of artificial flavours and additives. It can be used as a sugar substitute, as a glaze on meats or vegetables, in desserts, and of course, as a topping for a stack of fluffy pancakes.
Maple Syrup season runs approximately 20 days in length between the end of February and mid-March when weather conditions are ideal. Tree sap flows best when the nights still dip below freezing but the days are slightly warmer. Warmer days allow the tree sap to flow bringing with it sugars that have been stored in the roots of the tree. This is when Maple Syrup producers tap the tree trunk and collect its sap. If the weather is too cold the sap won’t flow but if the weather is too warm, sap rises too quickly to the tree’s buds causing it to take on a slightly bitter flavour.
Once the sap has been collected, it is boiled causing water to evaporate and the sap’s consistency to become sweeter and denser until it becomes Maple Syrup. Further boiling creates other Maple products such as Maple Butter, Maple Candy, and Maple Sugar.
The Springwater Maple Syrup Festival gives visitors the opportunity to learn about several different historical methods of producing Maple Syrup; to tour the old-fashioned Sugar Shanty; and, to taste sweet, delicious syrup samples. Visitors can also take a wagon ride through Springwater Forest, purchase Canadian Maple Syrup products, or dine at the pancake house, run by local service clubs.
The festival runs on Saturdays and Sundays from March 2 through to March 24 and daily during March Break. For more information about the Springwater Maple Syrup Festival, visit the Catfish Creek Conservation Authority on Facebook.
On Lake Line west of Port Stanley, the Palmer family have been producing and selling Maple Syrup for several generations. Current owners Brian and Laura Palmer and their two sons Cole and Christopher continue to entertain neighbours, friends, and the community with sugar shanty tours, syrup tastings, and hearty breakfasts and lunches in the pancake house. For more information about Palmer’s Maple Syrup visit - https://palmersmaplesyrup.com/.