Every March break, I try to fill our time with a balance of fun activities outside of the home and a few fun activities at home. One of our staple March Break things-to-do is a visit to the sugar bush. For those of you not familiar with the term “sugar bush,” you are probably wondering “what is she talking about?!”
A “sugar bush” is a forest of maple trees used to produce maple syrup. Quebec is the largest producer of Canadian maple syrup but we do have a few producers here in Ontario and luckily, for Ottawa residents, we have a few that are a short drive away.
On this particular visit, we went to Proulx Maple & Berry Farm. There are many in the area that are wonderful such as Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar Bush, and these others, but we chose to go here this time because it is close by and we had only been here once a few years ago. We wanted to try it again.
Proulx Maple & Berry Farm is very kid-friendly, your kids will love it. They have many on-site play structures, a life-size maze, and giant slides. The farm is run year-round with berry picking in the summer and during the fall, the farm is transformed for Pumpkin fest. And of course, Maple Fest takes place during the spring.
Once you arrive, after you have paid admission, you take a small tractor ride from the main area to the sugar bush area. Once in the sugar bush area, you are offered a tour that gives you a quick education into how the maple syrup is produced. The day we visited was COLD, so the sap was not flowing.
Despite the lack of flowing sap, there were reserves, so maple syrup production was still in full swing. We learned how maple sap was discovered, how it was first tapped to how the trees are tapped and how the syrup is produced today.
We learned how the sap is boiled down so all that’s left is syrup and we also learned about the different syrup grades.
The water bottle the guide is holding up in his left hand the picture below? It takes 40 of those filled with sap to make the small bottle of syrup he is holding in his right hand. Liquid gold. (sorry for the poor image quality…)
And right behind him (not pictured) were the huge boilers that boil the sap down into the syrup.
Interesting maple syrup facts:
- Free flowing maple sap depends on nights that dip below freezing and days where the temperature rises just above freezing (the day we visited was well below freezing).
- Sugar bush season ends when there are 10 consecutive night time temperatures that reach above freezing.
- Sap changes to an “off” flavour once the tree buds start coming out but by this time, maple syrup production has ended. This typically happens in early April.
When the tour ended, most of the people in our group headed to the restaurant building where you can grab a full breakfast or lunch buffet that stars pancakes. Of course. And as much maple syrup as your maple-loving heart desires. *Heart Eyes*
We skipped that part this time and headed straight for the maple taffy making area. Which is always popular with kids.
Sticky maple syrup on a stick you get to roll up yourself? I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t love this part of a sugar bush visit.
If you are visiting the Ottawa area during the end of winter/early spring or if you live in or around Ottawa, visit a sugar bush close to you! It’s a great family outing and you’ll get to consume maple syrup in many forms. My favourite thing about our visits? The stop at the gift shop on the way out to buy a few maple sugar candies. *Drool* This is always the best part of any sugar bush visit for me:
Have you even made a visit to the sugar bush? If so, what’s YOUR favourite part? And if you haven’t been, would you like to visit one?
And now that you have maple on your mind, here are some recipes that contain maple syrup you may like!
- Simple Granola Squares
- Maple-Spiced Almonds
- Butternut Squash Sweet Potato Carrot Soup
- Easy Vegan Gluten-Free Waffles
- We visited Proulx Maple & Berry Farm during the March break, so a reservation for our visit was not required. If you visit any time outside of March break, be sure to call ahead or check their website to see if you need a reservation before heading out.
- This post was not sponsored. Visiting the sugar bush is something we do each year and I enjoy sharing parts of Ottawa with you here to help you plan your activities and visits!