Maple syrup and more
One hour drive east from Ottawa, Ontario to Fulton's Sugar Bush. This is a maple syrup farm, where from February to April you can see how the sap of the sugar maple trees is boiled down to make maple syrup.
A maple syrup farm in the middle of the forest
The farm is not easy to find. Even our sat nav gave up when we keyed in the address of the farm - 291 Concession Road 6. Only a question mark appears in the display. But thank God there is Google. Well armed with the directions on the Fulton's website, the Google map and route description as well as the support of the navigation device, we find our way into the maple forest of the Fulton family. The last kilometers of the road run on a gravel road. The thawing snow creates mud along the route. Our rental car company will be happy if we give you our vehicle glued and encrusted with mud.
Experience how maple syrup is made
But that is exactly what we were looking for. We want to experience for ourselves how the sap of the trees ultimately becomes what tastes so delicious Pfannkuchen, Fruit or pastries. The juice is healthy. Sweet healthy? Does that even exist? But yes! Indian sugar is one of the healthiest sweeteners. It mainly consists of sucrose. Other ingredients are malic acid, minerals, phenolic compounds, amine compounds, and vitamins.
Harvesting maple sap
I had visited and guided other maple syrup farms before, but never at harvest time. I knew the method of extracting sap from the tree. To do this, you drill a hole in the trunk and put a metal valve into it. The farmer hangs a bucket on it to collect the juice. He then laboriously collects the juice in vats or barrels. Horse-drawn vehicles transport them to the sugar refuge via mud paths. A strenuous job for which you really have to enjoy eating the maple syrup in order to take it upon yourself.
Today's harvesting methods
Today the juice is collected more conveniently. This method can only be seen when the juice is actually flowing. Then the farmer lays a network of plastic tubes between the maple trees. The juice runs through this directly into the Sugar Camp. The principle is not very different from the method of collecting juice. Here, too, holes are drilled into the trunk. The only difference is that instead of a valve, a hose is attached to the tree which, together with other hoses, leads to an even thicker hose. This transports the juice directly into the pot in the sugar shack. The sugar maple forests are criss-crossed with a network of hoses in spring. In the sugar shack, the juice is first cleaned of dirt. Then cook it in a vat until it is concentrated and has the desired sweetness.
Products made from the sap of the maple trees
What I didn't know until now is that, in addition to maple syrup and sweets, other products are made from the sap of the sugar maple. Maple leaf candy can be found everywhere in Canada's souvenir shops from museums to airport shops. They are well aware that maple syrup is a Canadian specialty. The Indians were already familiar with maple sap, which was their only source of sweetener. Cane sugar or sugar beet were unknown to the indigenous people.
The Indians were already familiar with candies made from maple syrup. They poured the juice on the snow and made lollipops with wooden sticks. Today they just look a little different.
Care series made from maple syrup
The care series for the skin, which is made from the waste products of the syrup juice, is new. This creates care products that smell good. During the filtering process of the tree sap, substances remain that the sap already carries with it in the tree. These particles have previously been considered waste and have been thrown away. Not so with Fultons. The owner of the farm, Shirley Fulton-Deugo, comes from a family that has always been very enterprising. She was familiar with spa products made from honey, fruits or vegetables. So she thought, why shouldn't you be able to do the same with maple syrup?
Said and done. She read books and learned what these toiletries are made of and how to mix them. Then it was her family's turn. Each member had to try their test creams and scrubs for a year. Her daughter told me that there were even times when she applied a test version of the cream to one side of the calf and a second to the other - to see which one worked better.
The process resulted in a range of spa products made from maple syrup. They discovered wellness temples in Canada. More and more of them are using the care products, which actually consist of the waste from the maple syrup production. I can understand why. The effect is phenomenal. After a treatment with peeling and cream, my hands smelled of maple syrup for days ...
Fulton's Pancake House and Sugar Bush
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Source: On-site research with the support of Tourism Ontario and Tourism Ottawa
Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Photos: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline
Video: © Copyright Petar Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline