FAMILY FUN: Try tapping into the maple syrup experience

Laura Churchill Duke
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Nevaeh Anderson takes a hot chocolate break at New Ross Farm while the maple syrup boils down on the open fire in the background. Learn more about tapping Maple Syrup at New Ross Farm March 22-23. - Submitted

By Laura Churchill Duke

“I think it is very important that children have an idea of where our food comes from,” says Kentville mom Krista Anderson. “Learning about the process of how it gets to our table will help kids appreciate all the hard work that goes into making one of their favourite breakfast staples.”

Because of this widespread interest in maple syrup production, Hutchinson Acres in Lake Paul is hoping to start offering year-round tours of their facilities in 2015.

“The public wants to see how there food is produced and how it is processed,” says owner Chris Hutchinson.

Hutchinson explains that perfect conditions for maple syrup production are  minus 6 to minus 8 C at night and 6 to 8 C with sun the next day. Freezing causes pressure to build up inside the maple tree, then with the higher temperatures and sun in the daytime, the pressure is released and the result is good sap flow.

Sara Munro’s family operated Munro’s Mountain Maple facility in Sunken Lake for years. Despite growing up surrounded by it, Munro says she still absolutely loves maple syrup. The goal is to reopen in 2015.

On March 22, head to the Maplicicious event at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market, where they will be serving maple-infused products as well as offering a kid’s spring craft activity.

The Dragon Fly Inn in Annapolis Royal will be having its annual Quebec-Style sugar shack meal April 27.

New Ross Farm will hold an event March 22 and 23 to explain why maple syrup tapping was done in the past and why it's still so popular today.

“We tap three or four trees and gather the sap,” explains Joan Lenihan, assistant business manager at the farm. “This sap is boiled down over an open fire down by the cooper shop.”

She says staff will talk about maple syrup production and the steps involved in producing syrup. In Rosebank Cottage, you can sample locally produced maple syrup on a pancake cooked in the open hearth.

The Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia has links to other maple syrup events happening around the province.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try making your own maple syrup!

“Growing up in Lakeville,” says Anderson, “I remember my father tapping our maple trees in the front yard. When we had enough, we would make a fire and in a large pot boil off the water.”

She said it was amazing how much was needed to get just a little bit of syrup. She said she was always excited when she finally got to taste it.

Wendy Zwicker of Port Williams can attest to this. Last year, she tapped a sugar maple near her house, as her grandfather used to do.

“I did quite a bit of online research to figure out how to tell if a tree was a sugar maple and how to tap the trees,” says Zwicker.

She tapped one tree, visited it daily and brought the sap home, filtering it through a coffee filter into another container before boiling it down on the stove. Over the entire season, with one tree, she ended up with about two cups of syrup.

“It was worth it as the tree was a destination for nice walks in the woods, and it was a great learning experience for me and the kids,” she says.

However you choose, try to discover the wonders of maple syrup this March! Like five-year-old Nevaeh Anderson, the kids will soon be asking, “when can we go back there?"

Organizations: Dragon Fly Inn, Annapolis Royal, Maple Producers Association of Nova Scotia

Geographic location: Hutchinson Acres, Lake Paul, Sunken Lake Wolfville Lakeville Port Williams

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