If you didn’t already know, people from Quebec love their maple syrup. After all, Quebec produces about 80% of the maple syrup in the ENTIRE WORLD. Yes, you read that right.
So, what better way to celebrate the end of winter than to indulge in maple syrupy goodness. Around the end of February, families and friends flock to nearby sugar shacks or “cabanes à sucre” as they are known in French. Here are a few frequently asked questions about sugar shacks. If you have any other questions, be sure to post them in the comments below!
Question #1: What in the world is a sugar shack?
In a nutshell, a sugar shack is typically a log cabin out in a rural area surrounded by maple trees (which is where maple syrup comes from). Workers collect the sap which comes out of the maple tree towards the end of winter and then boil it into maple syrup. And then…drumroll… you can eat it!
Question #2: When can one visit a sugar shack?
Unfortunately, sugar shack season is a bit on the short side. Most shacks open their doors in mid-to-late February and close in mid-April. Reservations are strongly recommended so call ahead to book a group. If you plan on visiting during the week, a reservation is not always needed, but sometimes it depends on the location or popularity of the shack.
Question #3: What does one eat at a sugar shack?
At a traditional sugar shack, you are going to eat a lot of food! It’s basically like an all-you-can-eat buffet except the food is served to you and shared with the people sitting near you.
Here is a common sugar shack menu:
To start, you will have some bread and butter as well as pickled beets and pickles. After that, you will be served a traditional pea soup. Then comes the main meal: potatoes, scrambled eggs, sausages, ham, pork rinds, and baked beans. Don’t forget that there is a huge bottle of maple syrup on every table and many people drizzle the syrup all over the salty stuff. Sweet and salty — yummy!
Sugar Shack Meal Photo credit: AMAZed Now
At this point, you will probably be super full, but you always have room for dessert. Typically, a sugar shack dessert menu includes pancakes, sugar pie, muffins, and a dessert called “pouding chomeur” (poor man’s pudding) which is like a light cake drowning in thick syrup.
The last part is my personal favourite. Upon finishing your meal, you go outside to get some air and check out the area. Usually, you will see a worker drizzling piping hot maple syrup on a bed of ice. Within seconds, the syrup turns into a chewy taffy. You take a popsicle stick, roll it up, then stick it in your mouth. It just melts away in your mouth — a delicious treat. It’s called maple taffy or “taffy on the snow.”
Question #4: Where are the sugar shacks?
In Quebec, sugar shacks are located in many rural areas. Check out some of the best sugar shacks close to Montreal here.
Question #5: How much does it cost?
The cost varies from sugar shack to sugar shack but the average price per person on the weekend is between $25-30/person. During the week, it is usually cheaper, averaging at $20-25/person. Of course, if you have children, the rates are usually lower for them. Call ahead or visit the sugar shack’s website to find out more.
Bonus Question: Will CLC be visiting a sugar shack this season?
YES! We cordially invite you to our awesome sugar shack field trip.
CLC will be visiting Domaine Labranche sugar shack on Friday, March 10 from 1-5 p.m. Everyone is welcome to this event; be sure to sign up in person at the school to reserve your seat. Limited places so sign up as soon as possible.
Cost: $40.00 (general public)/ $30 (currently registered CLC student or registered volunteer)/ $20 (kids). Cash only please!
Hope you can join us! It will be a magical experience!