Where To Find The Best Maple Syrup In Ontario

What’s Canada most known for? Maple Syrup, of course!

Since Canada produces approximately 85% of the world’s maple syrup, we ought to know a thing or two about it! What better place to learn all about maple syrup, than from the many Sugar Shacks across Ontario!

How is Maple Syrup made?

It all starts around late winter/early spring, when the nights are still below freezing, but the days bring a touch of warm sunshine, with hints that spring is finally on the horizon.

Holes are drilled into the trunks of the tree where a tap is then hammered in, to filter the dripping sap.  It’s then directed wherever the collector wants it stored. 

The Traditional Way

In the past, and for smaller operations, metal buckets were used to collect the fresh, dripping sap. Nowadays, larger productions use lines and pipes in place of the buckets, that run the sap to a centralized location.  If you’re ever out driving on a country road and see lines of blue tubing strung around the trees in the forest, that’s all part of the process.  

When enough sap is collected, it’s time to boil it outside. This is for many reasons, but the two most common are so that additional sap can be added throughout the day (as some boils off) and so the kitchen doesn’t fill with sugary-sticky humidity. 

Afterward, sugar farmers will strain the sap through cotton before finishing the boiling in a smaller pot, inside. 

To become syrup, the sap needs to boil at 7 degrees (Fahrenheit) hotter than boiling temperature. 

When it’s finished, the syrup will turn into an amber colour.

The final step is one last filtration with cotton (or even a coffee filter) while pouring the hot syrup into a canning jar. As the syrup cools it will become thick, making it the perfect addition to your breakfast table!

Maple Syrup Shacks in Cottage Country

Many of Ontario’s maple syrup operations have been in the same families for generations and it’s interesting to ask about their history and how it all started. The owners are more than happy to answer all your questions about how production has changed over the years, and to show you the old way, as well as the new.

Some ‘Sugar Shacks’ offer wagon rides and most will allow the kids to try making taffy – a traditional method of pouring hot syrup onto a base of snow and rolling a stick through it. Delicous!

Do A Maple Syrup Tour

What could be more fun than a couple of winter days in a cozy cottage with a trip to a sugar shack to buy some of the best local syrup.

Red Mill Maple Syrup – Simcoe/Kawartha Lakes

Founded in Millbrook, only half an hour from Clarington, this family business is run by Jeremy & Sebastien Poulin and offers a new, fun twist on traditional maple syrup products! Sebastian comes from a long line of expert maple syrup producers, starting with his grandfather who produced it from the age of 15 at his home in Quebec. Back then, a loaf of sugar sold for 5 cents a pound. From there a tradition was born and producing maple syrup became a skill passed down from one generation to the next.

Sugarbush Hill – Muskoka

Tom & Pauline were born in Quebec. While Pauline grew up in what’s known as the “hot bed” for maple syrup producers, Tom always dreamed that someday he would be able to produce maple syrup and call himself a “sugarmaker!” After all, what could be more Canadian than that?!
They moved to their new home in Muskoka, which is laced with springs, creeks and granite outcroppings that provide peace in the most tranquil setting. Sadly, Pauline passed in 2016, but Tom still continues the family tradition today. “I am thrilled that our now adult children gather in our “Cabane à Sucre,” making tasty maple syrup and creating memories that will last a lifetime. There’s nothing sweeter!”

Maple Grove Syrup

Maple Grove Syrup is located in Severn Township in the “ghost town” of Uhthoff on a 50 acre sugar bush that has been producing high-quality maple syrup for generations!  
The Beers family and their loyal pup Molly work together every spring to make maple syrup the old fashioned way using a traditional wood-fired evaporator and sap collected from almost 1,000 taps.  Visitors to the sugar camp have the opportunity to see how maple syrup is made, go on a self-guided tour of the sugar bush and if the timing is just right, get some syrup straight from the evaporator.

*All photos & stories sent from Ontario Sugar Shack websites & owners.

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