A year ago we had the pleasure of joining a group of friends on a visit to the sugar bush near Fenwick, between Amherst and Springhill. This year we ventured out on our own. We had this excursion on our calendar for a few weeks hoping to bring along friends but our schedules never seemed to synch. So, in a split second decision we headed out yesterday.
It was pleasant enough to walk through the forest. The Fenwick Sugar Bush is so worth the visit. With three unique camps along the way visitors have the opportunity to witness and sample the maple production.
We enjoyed a chat with the head of the Thompson Maple Sugar Camp. They are trying some limited edition rum infused maple syrup this year. This is achieved by pouring freshly produced syrup into used rum kegs from a distillery in Truro. It sounded delicious and we realized what a treasure a jug of that special syrup might be… it sells out instantly… and sadly they were between batches. i
Wth a two-litre jug of 2022 delicious maple syrup under our arm Colin headed back to the car to drive down to our ultimate destination.
I decided to walk and get some fresh air. I passed the second maple sugar camp along the way. People were lined up for tasty samples. The workspace with their boilers is not open to visitors. I didn’t feel like waiting in a lineup of families and quickly passed by the shack.
Before too long I spotted the sign for the famous Ripley’s Sugar Camp.
I knew I was getting close when the blue lines through the forest came into view. Ripley’s maple production goes back for multiple generations. At present they tap 16,000 maples. A maple tree has to be 15 – 20 years old before it is considered for production.
Arriving at Ripley’s Sugar Camp is a little like stepping back in history.
What is most memorable upon entry of the production and sales area is the incredible scent of maple syrup… I wish they bottled that scent: getting a lung full of that delicious smokey-sweet steam could heal many ailments.
At first it appeared that there were a lot of people but we soon realized that most had lined up to purchase products. We squeezed by the long line up into the boiling area.
One of the employees quickly took us under his wing and gave us a special tour of the “inner sanctum”, the upper level where the sap is pumped and filtered into gigantic stainless-steel vats. In another area we witnessed where the sap had been separated from the water content through reverse osmosis. It was impressive! The images above show the pale green liquid that will be boiled and further reduced and ultimately turned into the most delicious golden liquid imaginable.
The personal tour continued down to the water wheel and catchment area for sap from the lower forest.
The drum pictured here filled with sap every minute and ten seconds before it emptied into the stainless steel collection tank from where it will be pumped into the separation tanks in the production area.
And just to help us all realize what is involved in getting from sap to end product: the 40 gallon stainless steel drum will yield one gallon of maple syrup.
Maple sugar season is considered Nova Scotia’s fifth official season. It runs for four to six weeks only.
Being new to the province last year, we only bought 1 litre of liquid gold and had to scramble to find more that tasted equally delicious. This year we stocked up… we are expecting company this summer and will be sharing our stash. I think we are set to last us till 2023!
I hope you enjoyed this little excursion down to the Fenwick Sugar Bush! Have a wonderful Friday, Anna