Maple sugaring season is on! It’s time to take your car and leave the city to honored the annual ritual; crowding around a large table with friends and family to eat eggs, potatoes and bacon flooded in syrup!

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, P68, P173. Public domain. Woman driving a sleigh to harvest maple sap, 1910


Maple water

With this rite of early spring, a fearly-new product has emerged: Maple water (or Sap water). Where to get it? It now possible to buy this delectable beverage in most grocery stores during sugaring season. But between you and me, the best is to tap maple trees, if you have some in your yard. Nothing better than earring the dripping sound on the metal of the pan, during a sunny afternoon while the snow melting. 

You never tapped maple trees before? It’s easy and no need to have plenty! Only 2 or 3 can be good enough to get an harvest of maple sap and a few jars of syrup!  

Recognizing sugar maples

The easiest way to differentiate a sugar maple tree it is with its foliage. In spring, when there is no leaf we need to go with other ways to identify them. 

Sugar maple: The leaves of sugar maples have three lobes like the drawings below, separated by spaces in spaces of ”U”. Its bark is smooth, sap is clear as water and its buds are brown. This is the leaf on the Canadian flag.

Acer platanoides or Norway maple: The leaves have five lobes instead of three. It’s an ornemental tree native of Europe. It has a milky sap sometimes mixed, in small quantity, to the sugar maple sap to make syrup.

Red maple: The leaves have a ‘’V” shape and lobes are toothed. It’s a tree found mainly in United States. Buds are red and it sap is sometime used to make syrup but contains less sugar than sugar maple sap. You need to collect a greater quantity of water to produce 1L syrup.

« Print maple leaves » by Mathilde Cinq-Mars Illustration. (photo credit: Mathilde Cinq-Mars Illustration)


There is also black maple, near the sugar maple but rare in Quebec, and silver maple that has a sap with an even lower sugar content than red maple. So the ideal remains really the sugar maple.

How to tap trees?

You will need: 

  1. A drill with a 7/16 inches bit

  2. A hammer

  3. Spiles (blowtorches with hooks to hang seals) can be found in a farming cooperative or on Kijiji and LesPacs

  4. Metal buckets with lids to harvest maple sap


Tap maple tree (photo credit: royalty free)


Tapping trees is done in March when temperature starts to raise. Temperature needs to be around 4 to 7 degrees Celsius (around 39 to 44°F) during daytime and minus zero during nighttime so that the combined action of frost and mild weather will bring out the sap.

To tap a tree, you need to make a hole of approximately two inches deep at three to four foot from the ground, on side facing the sun. 

Once the hole is drilled, you insert the spile with a hammer, put the bucket in place and you wait! Warning: bucket need a lid to prevent the rain and snow to mix with sap.

The sugary season comes to an end when the maple sap starts to get darker and when you start to see moths. This is an indicator that the season is over.

How to do maple syrup at home

You need about 40 liters of maple sap to get 1 liter of maple syrup. In a large saucepan, reduce the sap until you get a syrup. First, you need to ensure that the sap does not contain any impurities and you leave it simmer over medium heat. It’s a long process; perfect for a weekend activity! Warning: it is better to have some ventilation since the process can leave sticky residue. Maple syrup is ready when liquid reaches a temperature of 104°C (219°F) on the candy thermometer. At this stage, you need to closely watch the liquid to ensure it won’t overflow, change into sugar (112°C) and freeze in the pan.

Maple syrup on snow (photo credit: royalty free)


Incorporating sap to your recipes

Maple sap can be drank as is, it’s really refreshing and slightly sweet. You can also use it to cook meat, to make sauces, to add to your smoothies, to make your morning oat, or freeze it and make ice cubes for your cocktails!

  

DID YOU KNOW THAT?

– There is maple syrup in the composition of the parfume Ralph Hot by Ralph Lauren!


– Although maple syrup is a type of sugar, it contains abscisic acid known for its therapeutic properties good for diabetics.


Amélie Masson-Labonté

Amélie Masson-Labonté is a specialist of cultural history, culinary traditions and seasonal celebrations. With her company Storica, she invests time in projects relating to food and heritage. With specialties such as cultural heritage, seasonal celebrations, public market and slow food, Amélie was a collaborator we needed to have for Au bout du rang’ blog.

To discover Storica’ product line and services, here’s her website: www.storica.ca

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Ah! Our grandmother’s recipes… Not easy to duplicate them without their secret techniques which were not always written down. In 2015, tools, ingredients and baking habits have changed so much that a chef is required to reveal the secrets of a family recipe. I have tested for you the first recipe written at a very young age in a notebook that I describe as my « Bible » of the best recipes. The team of Au bout du rang gave me the challenge to discover the secrets of baking a family recipe that I myself had trouble baking with success. In honour of my grandmother Jeannette, 93-year-old, here is a sugar pie that I have ever baked with success up to now. This is a family recipe that I have been unsuccessful to bake time after time.

Here is the recipe as written in her recipe book:

Grandmother’s sugar pie 

2 cups of brown sugar
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of heavy cream (35%) 

To add later:
1 can (300ml) of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
½ cup of corn syrup

Boil sugars and cream until a ball is formed in the cold water (225°F).
Remove from heat and gradually add the Eagle Brand and corn syrup.
Cool completely.
This preparation is used in uncooked pie crust.
Bake at 350°F.

Like grandma Jeannette’s sugar pie  


What I realized:

You absolutely need to use a candy thermometer to make this recipe. The old technique of forming a ball in cold water is not precise unless you are a grandmother and you know this technique well.

Candy thermometer 


DO NOT SCRAPE the sides of the pan as the sugar will crystalize. The best way is to use a wet basting brush so that the sugar crystals dissolve during the cooking process.

I made this recipe over two days. You can make your mixture the night before and keep it in the refrigerator for the night. Then cook it the next day.

Refrigerate the pie before eating so that it remains firm.

 

Enjoy!

Mélanie Boucher – Head pastry chef

Head Pastry Chef from Saint-Eustache, trained in restaurant management and in pastry-making at the Institut de tourisme et d’hotellerie du Quebec in Montreal, she now lives the magnificent region of Charlevoix where she works as a chef.

She is perfect person to experiment methods of baking sweets. She is passionate about pastries, by vintage kitchen tools as well as our grandmothers’ know-how.

For Au bout du rang, she will explain the know-how of our grandmothers in the kitchen and she will adjust it to the present day. This quiet chef living in the countryside will teach us the old traditions of baking and will help us adapt these sweet treasures all year long.

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From the very beginning of Au Bout Du Rang’s being in 2014, the journey was clear in my head: working together for success. With the help of great partnerships, we are launching our own online shop! With lots of work and a great part of magic, we will have more products, more collaboration, more work and more challenges. 

SIGNATURE COLLECTION
In cooperation with Quebec artists, we are concocting unique products only found on Au bout du rang’s online shop. With this idea in mind, the “Signature Collection” will support a greater number of our collaborators.

Large ceramic coffee cup with paisley motif
Large ceramic coffee cup with paisley motif


DISCOVERY COLLECTION
Many artisans have become favourites of ours! Therefore, we created a showcase to introduce skilled worker who share our values and already offer products that we find absolutely perfect! This new category will feature handmade products from Quebec which already have a little something “Au bout du rang”. New products will be put online every month!

Veilleuse tracteur vert en verre
Green tractor nightlight in fused glass from Veille sur toi


EXCLUSIVE GUEST CATEGORY
Finally, we have created a web solution for small producer manufacturers who sell endearing products solely at their workshop or through a limited number of shops. Under our new Exclusive Guest category, lovers of the finest creations will be able to buy small limited collections. 

And so here is our brand new online store! Under the same roof, we will have a bigger product selection which will give our clients a greater choice of authentic Quebec artisan products made with rigor and work well done; values that we share here at Au bout du rang. 

THE BLOG
Because everyone is more than just what they consume, our team thought it would be perfect to generate meaningful and inspiring content with our own blog. After posting interesting content found on the web, we are finally ready to present it!

Here is what you will find on our blog as of Tuesday December 22st: 

• The underside of the food industry and agriculture from here and elsewhere
• Rural and urban self-sufficiency
• Family recipes and the best tricks to realize them
• The life stories of men and women who decided to put their desire for a countryside life at the center of their lives
• Reading suggestions
• The story of Quebec’s heritage and which of our ancestor’s daily objects became vintage
• Horticulture at large (vegetable gardening, arboriculture, floriculture, tree nursery, maple production and landscaping)
• Interior design and décor of country houses that our team visits regularly
• Creative ideas to DIY
• Portraits of farmers, artisans, cooks and entrepreneurs who inspire us!

More than ten (10) bloggers are joining our team and will be writing custom made articles on subjects that you care about!

With a fair amount of expertise and heart and soul, it is with great pleasure that our editing, managing and production teams will follow you in words, images and products to make you dream, think, share and consume more responsibly. 

Get in the adventure with Au bout du rang!

Jacinthe Généreux – co-owner of Au bout du rang

With College and University studies, and a good dose of experience in marketing, business administration and human resource management, Jacinthe came with the idea of Au Bout Du Rang and made her friend Marie-Claude jump into the adventure with her. She maintains daily relationships with each collaborator and feeds editorial content, in addition to unearth new talents and trends. She wishes to make accessible handmade products by supporting Quebec artisans and suggest a refreshed image of rural life.

This loquacious young woman will make you discover people who, like her, have chosen to live in the countryside.

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