In our house, four weeks of foggy windows means the boil is on, and the magic is happening. We don’t have an outdoor maple shack (yet), so we make our wild maple syrup on a propane stove. We tap our local neighbourhood maple trees (thank you Planters Ridge Winery), and from the day we set the taps and hang buckets, the daily collection of sap, to the boiling pots in our kitchen – it’s a wildly magical experience.
But you don’t need to make your own syrup to experience the magic of maple syrup! Here are four easy and fun ways to enjoy some maple magic this March Break on your own – or with the family!
Taste Local Maple Syrup.
It’s magic. We have several local producers in Nova Scotia – our favorite is the family owned Hutchinson Acres Maple Syrup in Aylesford, NS. They make 75 000 litres of this liquid gold every year (whoa!). You can buy there products at most local retailers - but for a magical experience go to their brand new DRIVE-THRU (yes, really!). They serve espresso coffee drinks with fancy PURE Infused Maple Syrup (try frothed milk with maple syrup for the kids!). Enjoy a drive and treat yourself to this little taste of magic. Directions are on their website www.hutchinsonacres.com
Make Maple Gummies. It’s Easy And Provides A Pure & Natural Energy Boost.
Maple syrup has some impressive nutritional qualities – it’s rich in riboflavin (helps reduce tiredness and fatigue); rich in zinc (helps immune system); rich in manganese (looks after bones and connective tissue); it’s a completely natural source of energy; it’s magic (Well, many athletes think so and we tell our kids that. Who doesn’t love tasting magic food?) Packaged fruit gummies are popular in lunch boxes – but have you looked at the ingredients - sodium, acid, wax? So why not try to make your own this March break? It’s a fun, easy activity – with a delicious outcome! Here’s our Gourmet By Nature recipe. You can easily find lots of fun silicone shaped molds at the dollar store.
Gourmet By Nature Pure Maple Gummies
1/4 cup apple juice 1/2 cup maple syrup 1 tsp vanilla 2 Tbsp unflavoured gelatin Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and let rest for 5 minutes. Bring to a simmer until gelatin dissolves. Use silicone molds and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Make Maple Taffy On Snow. Old School Traditional Magic, Outdoors.
Introduce yourself and your family to a piece of Canada’s cultural heritage. Maple taffy on snow – called tire sur neige – is a typical French-Canadian tradition. It’s so easy, all natural and (almost) magic!
Start by collecting some clean snow – if this is not possible, then simply crush some ice in a blender to create ‘indoor snow’. Pack the snow on a large baking sheet and place outdoors, or in the freezer depending on temperature.
Bring 1 ½ cups of pure maple syrup to a boil in small saucepan. Cook until the syrup reaches 240 degrees (this is the firm ball stage).
Carefully pour about 2 tablespoons of syrup over the snow in thin lines (about 10-15cm long), and then use a popsicle stick or fork to wind the warm taffy around. Voila! A simple, natural magic moment for you to enjoy.
Tap A Maple Tree & Taste The Sap. Discuss The Process With Your Kids. It’s A Physics / Biology / Culture & Heritage / Culinary Lesson Rolled Into One!
First step here is to find a maple tree – preferably a Sugar Maple and preferably a tree that is healthy and has about a 10 inch diameter. Here’s some info to help you identify maple trees in winter. This may be in your backyard, or it may be around the corner in your neighbourhood. Explore, get to know your local areas, and always ask permission before taking any action.
Next some equipment: You will need a drill (5/8 bit), a spile (available for $4-5 many local hardware or farm supply stores) a hammer and a bucket. Collect these and move to the next step.
Now, wait for the weather. Tapping maple trees should only happen when the sap begins to run (this is a very likely occurrence over the 2021 March break in Nova Scotia). The stars need to align here (not really, it’s about atmospheric temperature and internal pressure in the tree), but wait for daytime temperatures to thaw and night time temperatures to drop.
Once you have a day lined up to tap a tree, spend an afternoon / evening do some research beforehand. Check out You Tube videos for some helpful how to’s, handy tips and just to watch the process (we find this really engages the kids to see it happen before we do it together).
Ready, set, tap! Locate the sunny (south) side of the tree, angle the drill bit slightly upward and drill approximate 1-2 inches deep (or to match the length of your spile). Insert the spile and tap firmly into place with a hammer. On a warm day, the sap should begin to drip immediately. Hang your bucket (or catch some drips in your mouth!) and check daily. Remove your spile when you are done collecting sap.
Maple season in Nova Scotia is short, sweet and magical. Four to five weeks is all we’ve got – so it’s really important to get out there and experience it! Maple syrup is true terroir, representative of the region, a wild food specialty, and magically healthy and delicious. It’s a true connection to nature that we can all experience.
Check out our March Break Promotion ‘Maple: Tree to Table’ experience happening March 14th! Details available on our Wild Experiences page.