Quebec has the lion’s share in Canada’s maple syrup production, and if you are visiting in a spring, you cannot afford to miss a visit to a sugar shack. This brings to the question – what is a sugar shack? Also called cabane à sucre in French, a sugar shack is where sap from maple tree is boiled to make maple syrups. Quebec is the best producteur de sirop d’érable according to many people, and some of the shacks here have been around for decades, passing on from one generation to another. A visit to these shacks is not just about being a part of the sugaring-off ritual, but more about experience the traditional life of Quebec. Here’s more on what you need to know.
Take your family along in all seasons
Majority of sugar shacks open for outsiders during spring, which is usually between February and April. However, many are now available all through the year, although you may need to book in advance for winters. Typically, people come to these places and spend the entire day, enjoying the best maple syrups and having fun with the family. Before we talk of the dining experience, it’s important to mention that shacks offer a tour of the boiling farm where syrup is made, and this can be a great activity for the kids. You can also take part in free activities, such as hiking and horse-pulled sledge rides.
Experience the Quebec food
Sugar shacks have elaborate meal, so start slow with the first few things. You will be dining on a long table with many others, and the first thing that is served is usually a pea soup. This is followed by eggs, baked potatoes and beans, deep fried pork rinds, traditional meat pies called tourtière, and cretons. Everything is homemade, and you will find a dash of golden syrup on almost every single thing. This is followed by a dessert menu, which includes everything from sugar pies to pancakes and “Grand-père” in maple syrup.
Finally, you have the ritual called ‘maple taffy on snow’. This is when warm syrup is poured on fresh snow, usually in very thin lines, and as it cools down, guests use popsicle sticks to make their own popsicles. Have as many as you want, and this is a must-do thing and inclusion at any sugar shack. Bookings for spring start early, so check in advance and get ready for a sugary outing.