Tag Archives: maple syrup

How Sweet It Is!

22 Mar

maplecreek6By Diva Caroline Thuss

March Break…for those of us who did not escape the cold for much warmer weather to the south it is usually difficult to come up with activities that the kids will love to do while off from school. This Diva did not have to look too far to come up with a delicious and educational excursion that only meant a short drive to just outside of Blyth. The Blyth Creek Maple Farm was a big hit for kids of all ages (including mom and dad, and grandparents too).

maplecreek1When we first arrived we were greeted by the Bachert Family and told that the wagon would be leaving for the bush shortly. What great timing. After a short and bumpy drive back into the 30 acres of bush, we were taken back in time to see how the Aboriginal people discovered the sweet sap from the Maple tree and how to turn it into maple sugar.

maplecreek2After a chance to try our luck with a bow, we were off to the next camp area that showcased how pioneers worked with the knowledge of the Aboriginal people and developed their own method to make sweet maple syrup – a three-kettle process. Everyone got a chance to try out a two-man push saw – just like playing tug of war over a toy – and to play a traditional ring toss game that would have been used by early settlers.


maplecreek4maplecreek7Then we were off to see the modern vacuum system that the Becharts use. This helps them extract more sap from the maples, which increased their production. They still had several trees that had buckets on them as well but it is so impressive to see how technology is making this job easier.

maplecreek5After, we were back on the wagon and it was another short trip to the sugar shack where the magic happens. I am always amazed to hear how it takes 40 litres of sap to make one delicious litre of maple syrup. The modern day evaporator was not running yet that day but I could imagine the smell of the sweet sap boiling away working its way to be the best topping on so many things.

maplecreek8 maplecreek9 maplecreek10Next stop was to sample the finished product in the tasting room. This place is a great spot to finish off your visit. They had a fire going and a variety of games to keep everyone busy while the freshly made pancakes and sausages were getting ready for us to devour.

maplecreek11
maplecreek12 maplecreek14We opted for pancakes, sausages and baked maple beans – although the maple milkshake was tempting. These were topped with a hearty helping of the Becherts’ work that was lovingly enjoyed by everyone in my family.

Maple products are also available to take home with you as you will be wanting to keep enjoying this liquid gold treat in any way that you can think of.

maplecreek12Maple season runs well into April so I would make room on your calendar to check out Blyth Creek Maple Farm this spring. You should plan on spending at least two and a half hours there.


Blyth Creek Maple Farm

Where: 52232 Montcrieff Road, Blyth

What: Family Adventures

(during maple season)

Sugar Bush Tour

  • $5 + HST (children 2-14)
  • $6 + HST (adults 15+)
  • Family Pass $20 + HST (2 children & 2 adults)             

Meal Menu (prices vary)

  • Pancake & Breakfast Sausage
  • Eggs, Pancake, Sausage
  • Eggs, Pancake, Sausage, Maple Baked Beans
  • Waffles
  • Specialty pancake of the day
  • Hot and Cold Drinks available

(applicable taxes not included)

Website: http://www.blythcreekmaplefarm.com/

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Diva left with a sweet taste of ‘Hamlet with Heart’

15 Apr

carolineBy Diva Caroline Thuss

How many eggs does it take to make enough pancakes to feed over 6,000 people?

This Diva and my family discovered the answer on my journey to the 48th Belmore Maple Syrup Festival this past Saturday.

Over 300 community volunteers come together to make this event happen. It started as a way to raise funds needed to replace the community centre’s roof and has growth dramatically

Even with all the pancakes, syrup and sausages, a youngster chooses a creamer as the favourite treat.

Even with all the pancakes, syrup and sausages, a youngster chooses a creamer as the favourite treat.

over the years. Visitors come from all over Ontario to enjoy the sweet taste of local products brought together to make a delicious meal. Over 200 eggs and 700 litres of milk are used to mix into batter about 600 kg of flour, 80 kg of sugar, and more dry goods.  The dry ingredients are mixed ahead of time so all the volunteers need to do on the Festival days is add the wet ingredients and then the batter is ready for the line cooks. The pancakes are topped off with more than 150 gallons of locally produced maple syrup. Served alongside the pancakes are over 4,000 pounds of local pork sausage, which my kids could not get enough of. This festival is truly a local food celebration!

It is definitely worth the wait (we were lucky to only wait 30 minutes) to watch the line in action as hot, fluffy pancakes on a conveyor belt are placed on plates in an innovative process that makes service the fastest it can be.

It takes an army of volunteers to prepare the meal.

It takes an army of volunteers to prepare the meal.

And there is no shortage of food. If you find that the two or three pancakes along with as much sausage your plate can hold are not enough, servers are waiting to deliver more hot yummy goodness directly to your plate.

The Festival takes place in the Belmore Community Centre, which becomes packed with all the visitors in attendance enjoying the delicious food, the local entertainment, fresh baking, and more.

My kids really enjoyed the kid’s activity room, which included face painting, a clown offering balloon animals, a variety of crafts, and a space to themselves.  A whole section of the community centre is packed with local vendors selling a variety of items including jewellery, woodworking, sewing, and pottery.

The kids were enthralled by the mysteries of turning balloons in animal shapes.

The kids were enthralled by the mysteries of turning balloons in animal shapes.

One of the most popular destinations is the demonstration that happens out back of the community centre of how maple syrup is made. My kids loved the smell of the sap bubbling away to become rich syrup.

Overall, I could not think of a better way to celebrate the arrival of Spring than enjoying the Maple Syrup Festival and the very friendly community of Belmore. This Diva will be back for the 49th year!

For more information on festivals and events in Huron County, visit Ontario’s West Coast website.

Homemade pies were a hit with visitors.

Homemade pies were a hit with visitors.

 

It’s all about the maple syrup

24 Mar
A horse-drawn sleigh carries its passengers along the main street of Saltford.

A horse-drawn sleigh carries its passengers along the main street of Saltford.

danica

By Diva Danica Rush

What is it about maple syrup that brings people together?

Is it the wonderful sugary finish that completes a lazy brunch? The warm amber glow that signals spring is on the way? Whatever the reason, there is something about maple that unites Canadians to rural counties.

My friend Lauren, her two kids and I recently spend the afternoon at Samuels in Saltford. This lovely

maplesyrupsamuels9restaurant partnered with local producers Robinson Maple Products to host “Maple Magic Fest”, a two-day celebration of everything maple. Everything MAPLE!! Since neither Lauren, her kids nor I can resist anything maple, we had to check it out.

Everything, I mean everything, was maple.

maplesyrupsamuels11
Maple Cheese Cake. Maple Crème Brulée. Maple Walnut Truffle. Maple Mousse. Maple Cream Fudge. Maple Tarts. White Forest Maple Cake. Maple Macaroons, Maple Walnut Peanut Butter Cookies.

Maple! Maple! Maple!

maplesyrupsamuels10Our eyes cruised over the treat selections as we sat down to enjoy the homemade chili and hot chocolate that was served as a main dish. As the cheese melted into my chili, my mind focused on the task at hand. Which desert would I get? ! What can I bribe the kids with to make them share their maple treats with me? I tried in vain to calculate how much maple a reasonable adult could put in her mouth before strangers would look at her funny.

maplesyrupsamuels2We made our selections: A well-executed plan of divide and conquer. Iris narrowed in right away on the maple mousse. A wise choice. Emmett took his time, pacing up and down in front of the display till he finally picked out a Maple Macaroon for him and his mom to share. My heart stopped. NO! That was what I was going to pick! I panicked. If I pick the same treat as Emmett then my game plan of sneaking a bite of the kid’s treats would be thrown out the window. I could feel my personal feast of everything maple slipping out of my grasp. Fortunately, there were other wonderful treats to choice from. I quickly regained my composure, took a deep breath and brought a Maple Crème Brulée to our table.

You know a dessert is good when the only sound coming from the table is… mmm… mmm… mmm. Heads are bend over their own treats, no bites are shared and no crumb is shown mercy. I only had the Maple Crème Brulée, and it completely satisfied my maple lovin’ soul.

Filled with sugary bliss and chili good times, we gathered with other locals on a horse carriage that took us around Saltford. Signs of spring were upon us and it was good to simply be outside with others. Maple does that to people; it brings us outdoors at the end of winter, it warms our bodies and makes us feel young at heart. On the way home I asked Emmett what his favourite thing about maple is. He said, “It’s maple-y… and it’s from Ontario.”

Yep, sounds about right to me.

For more local maple events check out:

Robinson’s Maple Products Sugar Shack

Where: 85351 Harper Line just north of the Belgrave Road and east of the Dungannon Road.

maplerobinsonWhat: A tour of a sugar shack to see how maple syrup is made. Product for sale.

When: As long as the sap is running. If steam is coming out the stack, maple syrup is in the works.

How: Call 519-529-7857 to book your tour or come by chance.

St. James Church Pancake Brunch and Sugar Bush Tour

What: St. James Anglican Church in Middleton hosts its annual fund-raising sugar bush tour and breakfast.

When: Saturday, March 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: Horse-drawn hay rides leave from Pine Lake Campground Recreational Hall, 77794 Orchard Line and travel to Rick Schilbe Farm for a tour of the sugar bush and shanty. The Bayfield River Valley Trail Association will also lead groups of walkers through the Schilbe maple bush to visit the shanty for the tour. Walkers will depart at 10 a.m. and again at 10:30 a.m. This is an easy ¾ km walk along an old bush road.

Cost: The cost for the brunch is $10, adults; $5, children 12 to 6 years; and youngsters aged five and under are free. Proceeds from the event will go to world outreach.

48th Annual Belmore Maple Syrup Festival 

What: A community festival for all ages with crafts, dancing, music to celebrate maple syrup.

When: Thursday, April 9 to Saturday, April 11, with pancake breakfasts served daily.

Where: Belmore Community Centre,91122 Belmore Line R.R.#1 Wroxeter.

Cost: Admission to the community centre is free. Meal prices: $10 adults, $5 children ages 6 to 11, free for children under 5.

Blyth Creek Maple Farm Tours

What: Sugar bush tours, tree identification, hot chocolate, pancakes and maple syrup

When: Tours by appointment.

Where: 42232 Moncrieff Rd, Blyth

Contact: Phone Val at 519-357-7558


 

Extend the season by picking up some pure maple syrup and try this recipe at home. Remember to store your syrup in the fridge once you’ve opened the package.

MAPLE CHEESE CAKE

For crust

  • Twenty-four 5- by 2 1/2-inch graham crackers
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup pure local maple syrup (preferably Grade B)

For filling

  • Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Accompaniment: pure maple syrup if desired for drizzling

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Make crust:
In a food processor finely grind graham crackers (you will have about 3 1/2 cups). Melt butter. In a large bowl stir together graham cracker crumbs, butter, and maple syrup and press evenly into bottom and up side of a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap bottom and side of pan with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil to avoid leakage.

Make filling:
In bowl of a standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment or in a food processor beat cream cheese on low speed, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, until smooth. Add syrup and eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and cream and beat until just combined.

Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 1 hour (cake will not be set in centre but will set as it chills). Cool cake in pan on a rack. Chill cake, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 4 days.

Remove side of pan. Serve cheesecake in wedges, drizzled with maple syrup.

 

Ah, sweetest taste of Spring – Fresh Maple Syrup!

7 Apr

by Diva Karen
Saturday was the perfect day to take a trip ’round Huron County to pick up some fresh, organic maple syrup.  I visited Robinson’s Maple Products in St. Augustine and learned all about modern maple syrup production.  With 20,000 trees in five separate bushes, Bill and Susanne have built a business that provides fresh organic products not only to much of southwestern Ontario, but also to a large market in Japan and emerging markets in China and the Ukraine.

Read the full story at HERE at www.tasteofhuron.ca.

This equipment, called a PIG (it looks like one, eh?) churns thickened syrup for smooth creamy maple butter.

This equipment, called a PIG (it looks like one, eh?) churns thickened syrup for smooth creamy maple butter.

Saps contains 2% sugar,  After processing through this Reverse Osmosis System it's at 16%.

Saps contains 2% sugar, After processing through this Reverse Osmosis System it’s at 16%.

Holding tank on the second floor for the 16% concentrate … will flow down to the evaporator

Holding tank on the second floor for the 16% concentrate … will flow down to the evaporator

Evaporator on the left side uses steam coils to boil down the sap to 66.5 degrees Brix*

Evaporator on the left side uses steam coils to boil down the sap to 66.5 degrees Brix*

This filtering system removes the impurities

This filtering system removes the impurities

Dinner on Saturday night included Tangy Maple Meatballs – a recipe that Suzanne shared with us.

Tangy Maple Meatballs (Recipe below)

Tangy Maple Meatballs (Recipe below)

Robinson Maple Products
84548 St. Augustine Line
Auburn, ON  N0M 1E0
Phone:  519-527-7857
www.robinsonmaple.com

SUZANNE’S TANGY MAPLE MEATBALLS

Meatballs
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 egg
2 tbsp dried parsley flakes
1 tsp Worchestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Combined above ingredients and form into 1 1/2″ balls.  Please in 8″ square pan, bake for 20 minutes.

Sauce
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 c water

Combine cornstarch, mustard and salt in small saucepan.  Gradually stir in vinegar, maple syrup and water.  Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.  Drain fat from the meatballs, pour sauce over meatballs.  Bake 20 minutes.

 

A DIFFERENT WAY OF COLLECTION
While the Robinson’s operation is automated – sap is suctioned via vacuum on those blue plastic lines strung through the bush the local Amish were tapping trees along the roadside and rather than the traditional pails (shown in last year’s story HERE), they’re using Wine Skins as shown in the photo below.

Amish in the area are using WineSkins for sap collection.

Amish in the area are using WineSkins for sap collection.

 

*Degrees Brix (symbol °Bx) is the sugar content of an aqueous solution.  One degree Brix is 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution  and represents the strength of the solution as percentage by weight (% w/w). If the solution contains dissolved solids other than pure sucrose, then the °Bx only approximates the dissolved solid content.

Belmore Stacks Up

12 Apr
Hundreds of Seniors enjoyed the Belmore Maple Syrup Festival April 10, 2013

Hundreds of Seniors enjoyed the Belmore Maple Syrup Festival April 10, 2013

by Diva Karen

Every April, since 1968, the Belmore Maple Syrup Festival has been serving up stacks of pancakes with deliciously golden, sweet and local maple syrup.   Although I’ve lived in Huron County my entire life, I had never attended this annual Spring event.  And, I had suspected I was missing something wonderful. (I was!)

Today, I picked up my dear friend Margaret and braved the (hopefully) last winter storm to attend the 45th annual Festival.

At this link the North Huron Citizen shares the full story!

I was not disappointed.  This is truly a collaborative community event.  Demonstrations, home-baking, and craft displays were available for perusing and/or purchasing.    The co-ordination of a super-large corps of local volunteers was terrific.  They donned bibs that indicated what they were serving i.e. “Tea, ask me” or “Pancakes, ask me”. Under a temporary venting system constructed just for the Festival, pancakes rolling down the conveyor belt made me giggle as I thought about the episode of I Love Lucy when she worked in the chocolate factory.  Fortunately, the volunteers in Belmore were able to keep up food prepared for the large crowd today.

Pancakes rolled down a conveyor belt

Pancakes rolled down a conveyor belt

The secret pancake recipe is definitely a hit!  Diners were welcome to eat as many as they wished and the pancakes were served with sausages and applesauce … and topped, of course, with lots of maple syrup.     In the background, live from the stage, we heard  familiar old-tyme fiddle tunes.

It’s obvious the community truly enjoys coming together to support and contribute to this wonderful spring event that raises funds for the annual operating expenses associated with the Belmore Community Centre.  Laughter and fellowship were being shared everywhere in the Community Centre as approximately 1100 attended on April 13 (at least five busloads had cancelled due to the storm).  Fortunately the Festival runs another day.   And on Saturday a children’s program will be available.  You should go.

Belmore Maple Syrup Festival continues on
Saturday April 14th from 8:30 am – 6:30 pm.  
Just $10 adults / $5 children 6-11 / Free 5 years & under

craft vendors filled two room adjacent to the ice surface in the community centre.

craft vendors filled two room adjacent to the ice surface in the community centre.

Live music with old-time fiddle tunes was popular with the crowd.

Live music with old-time fiddle tunes was popular with the crowd.

Yummy!

Yummy!

It’s Syrup Time Again!

25 Mar

2013-03-09 12.24.36-2

The Sap was running well on this sunny Saturday afternoon.

By Diva Karen

By all reports the sap has been flowing well this season and Huron County has some great Maple Syrup producers.  I’ve enjoyed it a couple of times in the past week and I’m sure you’ll enjoy spring sweet nectar served like this too.

First, my all-time-favourite way to enjoy maple syrup is on fresh baked tea biscuits.  My grandmother taught me how to make these flakey treats years ago and they are still a big hit here.    I add raisins for extra goodness!

And last night I tried an easy new recipe.  I chopped up sweet potato, parsnips and carrots, drizzled them with olive oil, salt & pepper and baked for approx. 1/2 hour (stirred half way through).  Then, I mixed 1/4 cup maple syrup with 2 tbsp dijon mustard and 1/2 tsp garlic powder and glazed the cooked root vegetables.  My dinner guests enjoyed this sweet vegetable treat last night and todays microwaved left-overs were even better!

collecting sap the traditional way - metal buckets hang on the trees

collecting sap the traditional way – metal buckets hang on the trees

I visited the Drudge Family of Wroxeter right at their farm a couple of weeks ago.  The Drudge Family has been making maple syrup continuously since 1797!  So, I didn’t think I could go wrong and I purchased some light syrup – first of crop for 2013.

I was delighted to find on my tour through Huron evidence of both the newer way of collecting syrup with those blue syrup lines and large tanks as well as traditional method – metal sap pails nailed on the side of the trees.

Maple Syrup is also available in Huron County at

Robinson’s Maple Syrup in Auburn

Doris & Albert Schilbe’s (Facebook) product is available at Brandon’s Hardware in Bayfield.

Westlake Maple Products in Bayfield

and Cranston Farms Maple Syrup in Lucknow.

Cost for Maple Syrup this year is approximately $20/litre

I’ll be checking out the Belmore Maple Syrup Festival in a couple of weeks, so until then – Enjoy Spring’s Sweetness!