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Sandy Flat Sugar Bush in Warkworth, Ont., welcomes back maple syrup lovers

Click to play video: 'Visit Sandy Flat Sugar Bush during the ‘sweetest’ time of the year' Visit Sandy Flat Sugar Bush during the ‘sweetest’ time of the year
On this edition of Out & About Caley Bedore visits Sandy Flat Sugar Bush in Warkworth Ont. to see how maple syrup is produced – Mar 31, 2022

Sandy Flat Sugar Bush,  nestled in the rolling hills near Warkworth, Ont., is a property with a “sweet” history, said owner Chris Clark.

“We’re 150-acre property with about 50 acres of pure sugar maples under tap. Maple syrup has been produced on this property from the mid-1800s on.”

Come spring and the start of syrup season, those sugar maples are tapped and connected with a system of tubing, about 20 kilometres of it, said Clark.

“It’s all connected to a main line and all of that is under a vacuum system,” he said. “We pull that sap back to us to a vacuum sealer.”

There are no buckets to collect. The trees and tubes do that part of the job.

Read more: Key figure in Quebec maple syrup heist ordered to pay $9M in fines

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“So a tree has to be about 40 years old and 10 inches in diameter at chest level, before you can tap it and get one spiel, so one tree potentially can produce almost two litres of finishes syrup per spiel that you have in the tree,” said Clark.

“We are happy if we can hit about nine or 10 thousand litres per year.”

He added it takes about 40 litres of sap to get one litre of finished syrup.

Co-owner Robin Clark said one of her favourite parts is running tours at the sugar bush, teaching people about the syrup-making process.

“I think it is a big part of our Canadian culture and I think it is important that kids learn that,” she said.

“The Indigenous people would collect the sap from the trees in containers and pour it into a hollowed-out log and place hot rocks into the sap to turn it into syrup. It is a big part of the sugar bush and always has been.”

Now once the sap is collected, it goes to a machine called the evaporator.

“The back pan is designed to evaporator the water out very quickly,” said Clark.

“Then it makes its way to the front pan and that allows us to caramelize more of those sugars. And once the thermometer says I am at syrup temperature we can open the valve and that is pure maple syrup.”

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The syrup is then filtered and bottled. The colour or grade of the syrup depends on the time of year the sap is collected. The darker the syrup, the stronger the maple flavour.

Clark said the area where the syrup is produced can also affect the taste.

“I encourage people to buy maple syrup from this area on the sub-soil that we have, and then maybe go to Kingston and try it off of the limestone sub soil, or up north. The granite up there provides a different flavour,” he said.

“You should be able to taste the different nuances between everybody’s maple syrup.”

Read more: Producing your own maple syrup becoming a popular hobby

As for Sandy Flat, the syrup produced there is prize-winning, but you can also see (and taste) for yourself.

On Saturday April 2, you can visit the sugar bush, take in live music, horse-drawn wagon-ride tours and, of course, try some maple taffy in the snow. The site is located at 500 Concession Road 3 West, just seven kilometres west of Warkworth, or 55 kilometres southeast of Peterborough.

For more information you can visit the Sandy Flat Sugar Bush Facebook page or call 705-924-2057.

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