When the winter temperature gets warmer during the day and freezing at night, it is a sure sign of the beginning of the maple syrup season in Quebec. This is the ideal temperature to ensure the sap flow. The province of Quebec in Canada is the world’s largest maple syrup producer.
A Visit to the Gallant Maple Pavilion
During the maple syrup season, it is a Quebec tradition that has sugar shacks or ‘cabanes à sucre’ offer maple syrup meals as well as maple syrup products to the public.
It is an event that brings family and friends together for an afternoon for the sweet celebration of spring.
One of my favourite ‘cabanes à sucre’ is the Gallant Maple Pavilion located in Rigaud, Quebec which was constructed from the trees that were salvaged from the 1998 ice storm.
The owners, Gerry and Linda Gallant, are welcoming and during one of my visits, happy to describe the process of their maple syrup production.
The 10,000 taps make for quite a busy spring for the Gallant family to produce maple syrup and its products. Maple syrup production begins in February and ends in April.
The maple syrup production starts by tapping the maple trees to collect the flowing sap. Once the sap is collected, it is boiled down at a high temperature in an evaporator until the water has evaporated and the sweet syrup remains. Maple syrup can also be boiled down to make maple sugar and maple taffy.
Then the maple syrup is filtered to remove any impurities and to prepare it for canning while the maple syrup is still very hot.
Maple Syrup Meal
A typical maple syrup meal at the Gallant Maple Pavilion consists of:
beets, pickles, home-made ketchup, cole slaw with maple vinaigrette, cretons, home-made bread, French Pea soup, meat pie, meat ball stew, potatoes, maple syrup ham, sausages in maple beer, pork rinds, omelettes, home baked beans, pancakes with maple syrup, upside down maple cake and sugar pies.
Tire sur la Neige
Maple Taffy on Snow or ‘Tire sur la Neige’ is the perfect way to end a maple syrup meal. First the maple syrup must be cooked to a temperature of 238ºF (114ºC). Then the hot maple taffy is poured on clean snow spread that has been spread in a wooden trough.
The maple taffy takes only a few minutes to harden. Wooden spoons are distributed among the crowd anxiously waiting for the tasting to begin.
Maple Syrup Treats
The Gallant Maple Pavilion also offers, along with maple syrup, a variety of maple syrup products for sale such as maple taffy, maple syrup pies, maple sugar pies at the Gallant Maple Pavilion and selected products from the Auberge des Gallant Web site.
Photos credit: Michel Julien
Photos printed with permission from Auberge des Gallant
The Gallant Maple Syrup Pie Recipe
Listed below is the recipe for the Gallant Maple Pavilion’s renowned Maple Syrup Pie.
Maple Syrup Pie Recipe
•1 cup medium or amber maple syrup
•½ cup brown sugar
•¾ cup 2% Carnation condensed milk
•1 unbaked pie crust
1.Preheat oven to 350° F.
2.Whisk the first four ingredients in a bowl until well blended.
3.Pour ingredients into unbaked pie crust.
4.Bake for 45 minutes.
5.Remove pie from oven. Center of pie will be jiggly. The pie will continue to bake
slowly resulting in a silky texture.
Yield: 1 9-inch pie.
Photo credit: Linda Gallant
Permission granted to print the Maple Syrup Pie Recipe and photo granted by Auberge des Gallant.