Making my maple taffy on snow

If you haven’t made it out to a sugar bush yet, you may want to head to Fortune Farms tomorrow for what may be their last day of the season. This Lanark County sugar bush provides an excellent introduction to the history and science of making maple syrup.  From sap boiled in kettles, to modern evaporators, you’ll be able to see how maple syrup production has progressed from pioneer to modern times.

Your first stop will be the modern maple syrup production building, where you’ll see the oil-fired evaporators with stainless steel pans, and will learn about modern production techniques using reverse osmosis.

Next, you’ll walk down a dirt road to the 1940’s sugar shack, where maple syrup is produced using an old-fashioned wood-fired evaporator. Here you’ll learn interesting facts about traditional maple syrup production – such as the huge amount of resources (wood and labour) needed to produce a small amount of syrup, or the fact that the steam contains small amounts of sugar, which sticks to the roof and attracts wasps in the summer. The best part is that you get a free sample of warm syrup freshly made from the evaporator, which should give you lots of energy for the rest of your visit!

Depending on the timing of your visit, you may also be able to visit with the Kettle Boys, who demonstrate how maple syrup was produced in large iron kettles over an outdoor fire. I visited Fortune Farms in mid-March on the first day of maple syrup production, so the Kettle Boys were not out yet, but they will be there tomorrow (Sunday).

After all this history and learning, you may be up for a walk through Fortune Farms’ beautiful forest. It’s best to bring a copy of the trail map and the accompanying trail guide. Otherwise, you may get a little lost as I did – but one good thing about a sugar bush is that you know you’re never too far from the sugar shack if you can just keep the sap lines in sight! Along the trail, you’ll see interesting sign posts explaining how the forest is managed, including details about the 1998 ice storm that inflicted so much damage in eastern Ontario and Quebec.

When you’re finished your tour, you can visit the shop at the entrance and purchase various grades of maple syrup, as well as maple candy and maple butter. You can also enjoy a free sample of maple taffy on snow, something for which other sugar shacks charge up to $5 each. Considering that the entire sugar bush experience is free, Fortune Farms is probably the most generous sugar bush in the region. Hopefully you’ll be able to pay them back by buying lots of maple products!

Location: 2442 Wolfgrove Road, Almonte

Phone number:  (613) 256-5216

Website:  http://www.fortunefarms.ca/

Reservations: Not required

Hours: Open daily in the maple syrup season.

Nearby: Temple’s Sugar Bush, where you can have a delicious meal after your visit at Fortune Farms.