Sugaring Off and Bacon-Wrapped, Maple-Glazed Roasted Carrots

I grew up as the younger sibling to both a brother and a sister and everything happened to them first: sleepovers, concerts, dating, driving lessons…

It was one of those things I had to make peace with, knowing that eventually I too would be able to wear make-up, get a summer job, or go overnight camping with just friends and no adults.

Watching spring come to our Southern neighbours in a splash of vibrant colour on Instagram while we are still sitting in slushy mud requires a similar resignation. I know it won’t be long before I too am snapping the ends off of bright green asparagus or roasting strawberries for an ice cream sundae, but for now, I have to be patient.

Fortunately, here in Eastern Canada we have a fifth season to tide us over until the blossoms bloom and the bulbs burst – the maple sap run. It’s an utterly magical few weeks when the towering maples, which already give so much in shade, oxygen and sheer beauty, offer up their sweet, sweet sap for the taking.

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A sugaring off season finale

From the window above my desk I can look out past the garden beds and into the forest where a pale green carpet is taking over the brown forest floor.

All over our quarter of an acre urban homestead, signs of spring are revealing themselves. The garlic has emerged from its long winter hibernation and the rhubarb is quickly shooting forth leaves.

Our sugaring off season is over; tomorrow we will be removing our taps and giving the buckets one final wash. It was a short season, but one with many highlights, including one Saturday under blue skies…

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10 things you probably didn’t know about making maple syrup (Recipe: Maple Sausage Patties)

We’ve been waiting for the sap to start running so we can continue to make maple syrup. And waiting. And waiting some more.

The ideal conditions for sap collection is above freezing temperatures during day, and below freezing at night. Unfortunately, it’s been consistently so dang cold that nothing has really happened. Then we had one glorious day with full buckets, and now it has been consistently above freezing – so no more sap.  Sheesh.

Since we can’t elaborate further on our personal progress, I’ll share a few particulars I’ve recently gleaned about making maple syrup and then add in a killer recipe for your Easter brunch to boot. Ready?
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How to know when it is time to tap maple trees

I recently met up with my buddy, Yannick, owner and head maple guy over at Erabliere des Anges, to catch up over coffee and discuss the upcoming sugaring off season.

He’s been running a small, family-based, organic sugarbush a few hours North of here for the past 2 years; we tapped 5 trees last year. This is all-consuming for him at this time of the year; we lose access to our stovetop in the evening for a few weeks. We both have day jobs to pay the bills. He knows much, much more about maple syrup than I ever will.

I mentioned that we think we missed much of the season last year because we tapped our trees too late, and so we began discussing (more like him teaching) about the ideal time to tap, and what to look for. [Read more…]