Somewhere in northeastern Romania. Photo taken November 30, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Not sure. We're staying in Chisinau for a week or so.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Off to the sugar bush

There isn't much more that is Canadian than hockey and maple syrup. We're not big hockey fans, but we sure are big maple syrup fans!

However, going to the maple sugar bush now is not the same experience that I remember as a kid. Back then, you went for a walk in the bush and had fun checking for and tasting the sweet sap in the buckets that were hanging from the trees.

Then, you would sit outside while they poured thick maple taffy onto a plate of snow, and after you ate that you visited the sugar shack where a huge vat of maple tree sap boiled over a wood fire.

Of course you can still go for a walk through the bush. But the buckets hanging from the trees are no longer there.

Plastic hose runs from tree to tree.

It used to be that horses, and then tractors would drive through the bush with people manually collecting the sap from the buckets. Now, all the tree sap is collected via plastic tubing that drips down to huge vat near the sugar shack where it is boiled by very fancy wood pellet equipment.

Canada produces 80% of the world's supply of maple syrup. To put that in perspective for our American neighbors, the state of Vermont produces only 5% of the world's supply.

We went to Wheeler's Pancake House yesterday. They have a beautiful big building where they supply meals of pancakes and sausage with an unlimited supply of maple syrup. It was pretty quiet when we were there, but I would guess it's a very busy place on the weekends.

Beautiful big pancake house.

Tony (Ruth's dad) and Ruth.

Big fluffy gluten free pancakes.

The meal was good, but at $4.75 CAD ($3.80 USD) per pancake, I thought it was a little overpriced. I guess we're just out of touch. But then, there was all of that unlimited supply of maple syrup to put on the pancakes. Maybe some people go overboard. I know I tried to!

What are you lookin' at?

After lunch, we went to check out the production area. It's very much a family business at Wheelers. Vern Wheeler has been making maple syrup here for almost 60 years, and his son and daughters are all part of the business. They've bought some new equipment lately, and it's all coming online this season...

Wow. Fancy looking machinery to boil sap!

Vern was an interesting guy to talk to.

Vern spent a few minutes talking to us. I bet this guy knows everything there is to know about maple syrup! He's got about 20,000 trees on the property, but not all of them are tapped. Each tree produces about 40 litres of sap during the season, and it takes approximately 40 litres of sap to make one litre of maple syrup. (One litre is approximately equal to one quart in the U.S.) 

And then of course there are a lot of maple syrup products for sale.

Yummy!

Unfortunately, it's not the cheapest place to buy your maple syrup. A one liter container was going for over $20, and we can buy the exact same item at a local Walmart for $13. I'm afraid Walmart would be getting our business. However we did buy a little maple sugar candy. :-)

All in all though, a fun outing and it was something to do to get out of the house.

Oh...kind of odd, but they also have a chainsaw museum at this place. Why? Who knows?

The chainsaw museum.

Everything you wanted to know about chainsaws.

Okay. But why?

Whatever turns your crank. I would prefer to collect cars. Or single malt scotch! 

The folding camping table that we use with the motorhome is on sale at Amazon...great deal for a useful product. We like ours, and it's come in handy many times...



32 comments:

  1. Love the new header picture. That's interesting about the syrup and that picture of the pancake made me hungry....till I saw the price. Wow.

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    1. Thanks Karen and Al, the chickadees were so cute to watch while we were eating our pancakes. Yes, the pancakes were expensive but they were also big and delicious!

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  2. How things change but plastic hoses? Sad. Were the non gluten pancakes less expensive?

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    1. That was the price for the regular pancakes. The menu stated that there was an added surcharge for the gluten free ones, but it didn't say how much. Ruth's dad was treating, so we never saw the bill.

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  3. I remember the day we went to the sugar shak where there were long tables and there was oddles of food from scrambled eggs, bacon crackles potatoes pancakes of course, and I can't remember it al and everybody sat together it was one big party

    l

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    1. I don't remember ever seeing that at the sugar shacks here but it sounds like it was delicious and fun.

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    2. This was when I lived in Quebec

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  4. Maple Syrup and hockey - Out here on the prairie I've only learned how to pour it over a pancake. Now hockey, that's another matter! Thanks for the cool pics.

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    1. Learning how to pour maple syrup over the pancakes it the most important thing to know about it! And, we on the other hand don't know much about hockey! ;-)

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  5. Does one collect Single Malt Scotch? I am afraid the collection would keep disappearing :) Maple syrup is good but over $4 a pancake is really steep. I only make them at home. Ever had corn flour pancakes in Mexico? My favorite

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    1. Yep, some sure do! Kevin has one bottle of Single Malt Scotch that he bought back in 2003 for $99 and now it is worth about $900. It will not be opened until close to death or if the price goes high enough it may just get sold to the highest bidder. A few of his other bottles have slowly been disappearing over the years that we have been coming here to visit.

      The pancakes are big, trust us two of them were almost too much, and then pouring lots of syrup over them helps to defray the cost! ;-) Yes, and I have even made corn flour pancakes, that is where I learned that you can use the Maseca to make them with.

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  6. Replies
    1. Yep, maple syrup sure is, and oh so delicious! ;-)

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  7. Hockey and more hockey for us and maybe the Maple Syrup Festival in Elmira Ontario is tomorrow but we will miss it watching yet another hockey tournament in Whitby.

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    1. You are a real true Canadian George, with all the hockey you have been watching this winter! :-)

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  8. Chainsaw museum? OK, that's *out there*.
    There's nothing that compares to Maple Syrup, that's for sure. And that's usually the problem with getting pancakes in a restaurant, the don't serve Maple Syrup. Does work.

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    1. Yep, that is exactly what Kevin thought to himself too!

      You are totally right Bob, nothing can compare to REAL maple syrup. We wouldn't even buy pancakes in a restaurant unless they serve REAL maple syrup, so needless to say it is really rare instance that we ever order pancakes, french toast or waffles in a restaurant. Add to the fact that very few restaurants sell any of these items as gluten free.

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  9. Thanks for the interesting maple syrup story..I must confess I have never had it -will l look out for it & try some - I have seen it at the supermarket - will let you know cost.....lesalp.blogspot.com.au

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    1. Just make sure that if you buy it, to look at the ingredients! It should say pure maple syrup and have absolutely no other ingredients. I say this because when we were in Europe and saw some syrup that the company made to look like REAL maple syrup in very way possible but as soon as we looked at the ingredients we knew it wasn't. They added sugar, water then some maple syrup and then natural maple flavouring. For someone that isn't familiar with this great Canadian product, then they would think they were getting maple syrup. www.travelwithkevinandruth.com/2013/06/do-you-read-labels.html

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  10. Single malt scotch, hands down! Sorry but at 3.80 a pancake I would have eaten just one and had a stash of chorizo and egg tacos in my jacket pocket. But that's just me! (chorizo de soya)

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    1. I like your thinking Chris! Mmm...egg and chorizo. :-)

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  11. Walmart sells only the cheaper "dark" grade and $13 for that is a lot in my opinion. "Fancy" grade A is typically substantially more and worth the quality difference. We buy our "Fancy" grade A from Vermont four one quart bottles at a time @ $16/qt with free shipping. Re the $3.60 per pancake...if they are providing pure non-diluted/blended syrup then that's not a lot to ask.

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    1. We like the cheaper, darker, more flavorful syrup better so the Walmart stuff works the best for us. Besides, how can $13 a litre (CAD) be a lot when it's the cheapest price available? Speaking of which, you're forgetting about the 30% exchange rate on the dollar. Having said that, the price you're paying with free shipping is decent. Perhaps you could provide a link to your supplier?

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  12. Just checked Amazon - $20can for a liter isn't bad as long as it's "Fancy" Grade A Amber

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    1. So you're paying $20 a quart? That's $26 CAD...double Walmart's price...

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    2. Read my post again. I wrote $20can(cdn)

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  13. Bill & I tapped trees in SE Ohio... had an evaporator etc... but no where near the size of the operations in your photos. Since then Aunt Jemima has never even visited my house... I got spoiled for the real thing!

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    1. My Mum and Dad tapped a couple of the trees on our property and my Mum would boil it up outside, it was oh so delicious. Nope we will never ever buy Aunt Jemima or any other table syrup in our life time, nothing compares to the real thing!

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  14. Oh my - chainsaws - B would of been in heaven! We still have the Pure Maple Syrup tin sitting on our window sill at the kitchen sink - think of you two often!

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    1. I am sure Barry would be in heaven there! They must have just about every chainsaw ever made in there! We will have to stop by and refresh that can some day soon! :-)

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  15. The sugar shacks in Quebec ( cabane a sucre) serve a ton of food, all you can eat, for around $25. For that you get pea soup, creton and bread, oreilles de criss (fried pork rind), crudités like home made pickles and pickled beets, sliced ham, potatoes, egg omelet, deserts (two or three different crepes, donuts and pie) and all the maple syrup. This is followed up by cire, the maple taffy in snow. Many places still tap the old way with buckets.

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    1. That sounds like quite the spread that they lay out there. I don't think any of the sugar bushes around here do anything quite that big.

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