March is the season for maple syrup production in New Brunswick. The starch that was stored in the maple trees’ trunks and roots before the winter is converted to sugar and rises in the sap in late winter. A hole is drilled in the tree and a spile (traditional method) or tube (modern method) is inserted in the hole to collect the sap in a bucket (traditional) or large holding tanks (modern).
Tire d’Erable, also know as Maple Taffy or Sugar on Snow, is one of my favorite seasonal treats. It’s maple sap that is boiled past the point of maple syrup, but before it turns into maple butter. The liquid is then poured on snow to cool. To eat, you take a popsicle stick and roll the taffy around it. Tire d’Erable has a chewy texture and tastes amazing!
I first had sugar on snow when I was in girl scouts and we would go to a sugarbush each winter. A horse-drawn sled would take us to the sugar shack in the middle of the woods. We’d all crowd around the person pouring the boiled sap and wait impatiently for the moment when we could pick up a stick. My addiction to sugar on snow started then.
This year we went to Kings Landing Historical Settlement for their Sugarbush event. The York Sunbury Ground Search and Rescue organized a fundraising breakfast. Pancakes, sausage, bacon, eggs, toast – and lots of maple syrup! Yum.
After breakfast we went outside to the sap boiling demonstration and tire d’erable station. The man pouring the boiled sap told us that the pots boiling outside were just for demonstration – because of health regulations they have to use maple sap that has been boiled in sterilized, special equipment. Didn’t matter to me, it still tasted amazing!
I love that sugar on snow isn’t available year-round. It’s a special once-a-year treat that I look forward to every year.
If you haven’t been to a sugar bush before and have the opportunity, I recommend it. And make sure you try the Sugar on Snow!