Located in the maple bush overlooking Deerhurst Resort, farmer Brian O'Donoghue and his helpers collect 50,000 to 70,000 liters of sap each year using 1800 taps and many kilometres of sap lines. With over 30 years of experience in the maple syrup business, Brian has seen the process of collecting syrup transform from metal buckets and taps, to pumps and plastic sap lines. Specialty crafted tools are used to tap the trees and maintain the lines after squirrels, bears and other forest creatures help themselves to the sweet sap that flows through them.
While a portion of the final product is provided to the kitchens of Deerhurst Resort, Sweet Muskoka sells the rest of the pure maple syrup to loyal customers. During the peak sugaring season (usually mid-March to mid-April) Brian and his wife Deanne are pleased to greet and talk with locals and visitors who are interested in this time-honoured tradition.
1235 Deerhurst Dr, Huntsville,ON P1H2E8
"It takes a whole lot of sap and hard work to make a bottle of maple syrup."
In the frosty winter darkness of Muskoka’s hardwood hills, maple man, Brian O'Donoghue starts his day by coaxing his truck down a rutted path. At the other end is the centerpiece of the sugar bush — a gleaming, 3x10 stainless steel evaporator which he will fill with hundreds of litres of sap, siphoned through 1,800 taps and a network of pipelines that, end-to-end, stretches over many kilometres.
That’s the modern side to sugaring, a centuries old practice, reflected in native legend, history and modern science. Every spring, syrup producers throughout southern and central Ontario, collect the slightly sweet sap (sweet-water) of sugar maples and boil it to produce a sweet syrup. Sap comes from the tree with a natural sugar content of 1.5 % – 4.0 %, and is processed until it is 66% sugar.
Traditionally sap was collected in buckets hanging on spiles drilled into the side of the tree. Once a day the sap was collected, taken to storage tanks, and ultimately poured into a boiling pot or pan. Many small “hobbyists” do this to this day. Larger producers have gone to a system of pipelines, tubing and pumps to collect and deliver the sap. Once the trees are tapped each spring and weather conditions are right, the sap flows to sap storage tanks without the labour intensive task of collecting it by hand.
Sweet Muskoka operates in the sugar bush of Deerhurst Resort from which sap has flowed for well over 100 years. The original settlers to the area produced syrup used in the early resort. Today, syrup made from the sap of that same forest is used in the kitchens of the resort as well as sold to the public by Sweet Muskoka.
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All pure maple syrup in Ontario must have the same density / sweetness (66% sugar) and be graded into one of several colour classifications. While there are common standards and container designs, the taste of maple varies from producer to producer.
Many factors affect the taste of maple syrup. Flavour varies depending upon the soils on which the maples grow as well as the way syrup was produced including the design of the sap collection system and the manner in which the syrup was boiled and finished.
Much of the syrup produced by Sweet Muskoka in the Deerhurst sugarbush is a deliciously sweet amber syrup.
Sweet Muskoka pure maple syrup is packaged in standard glass, plastic and tin containers ranging in size from 50ml to 2 litres. Some fancy glass containers are also available.
The high sugar content of maple syrup allows it to be stored for long periods either in your cupboard or freezer. Once opened it must be refrigerated.
Glass - 250 ml Kent
Glass - 500 ml Kent
Glass - 1L Kent
Fancy Glass - 50 ml Maple Leaf
Fancy Glass - 250 ml Maple Leaf
Fancy Glass - 500 ml Maple Leaf
Fancy Glass - 100 ml Tarquina
Fancy Glass - 250 ml Tarquina
Fancy Glass - 250 ml Erable
Plastic - 250 ml
Plastic - 1 litre
Plastic - 2 litre
Tin - 1 litre
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185 Morgans Rd.,
Hunstville, ON, Canada