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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Its Officially the Maple Season!

Spring is in the air and the Maple trees are being tapped in for their sap. And with it we make, of course, Tire D'Érable (Maple Taffy on snow). This long awaited time of year is a VERY Canadian tradition and is enjoyed by kids of ALL ages! I was very lucky today to take part in this yearly tradition with some friends, out in the province of Quebec. Here's some more information about how it's made, how to eat it, and how my adventure turned out.

This tradition is most prominent in the province of Quebec, where the maple trees are found in large number. It is also found in my native province of Manitoba, where the Manitoba Maple Trees, also known as Box Elders, produce a more mustier flavored maple syrup. Whether you are in Manitoba or in Quebec, the same smells and flavors will certainly entice you to a sugar overdose. Here's how its made.

1. The sap from the Maple trees are collected by tapping into the tree with a spout and having dripping down into a metal jug. After the sap has been collected, it is boiled down to its natural syrup, before it become butter of maple sugar. The maple syrup is then boiled to 232-234 degrees F.

2. Once the 100% pure syrup has reached that temperature, it is poured in a line on compacted clean snow.

The snow cools the syrup down very fast, so make sure to place your Popsicle stick into the syrup at either end of the strip.

3. Leave it on the snow for a minimum of 25 seconds and then start rolling it around the stick. All you have to do now is to put it in your mouth and enjoy it melting slowly in your mouth as the rich flavor of maple invades all of your taste buds.

To have access to the best of what this wonderful experience has to offer, it is often best to drive out into the country to the maple farms themselves. There you will most often have the option of a breakfast and look around at some antiques in a local farm museum.

The breakfast will always include the following; pancakes, breakfast sausages (cooked in maple syrup), bacon (cooked in maple syrup), "Oreilles de Chriss" (deep fried pork jowls), eggs, pork beans and split pea and ham soup. All of which you are free to top with fresh maple syrup, the real stuff! Don't worry, there are a few tricks to offsetting that sugar rush! Have a nice cup of coffee and a pickle with your breakfast and you'll be better off at the end of your meal!

After you have eaten enough maple syrup to last you till next year, you have the Maple Taffy on snow for dessert while you go see the farm animals and the museum. All in all, an amazing treat for the entire family!

Check back soon for a recipe on what to do with that liter of Maple Syrup that you brought home from the Maple farm!

Eat well, sleep well and till tomorrow!


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