Sap Runs in the Family

Sanagan’s grade A maple syrup is produced in Guelph, Ontario by Shady Grove, the same family who raise most of our holiday turkeys. Shady Grove has 30,000 taps installed in 15 local woodlots, feeding not picturesque buckets but networks of vacuum-powered sap extraction systems. Their sugar shack (a.k.a. production facility) has the ability to process 4000 gallons of syrup per hour. They are serious about syrup and the result is top grade stuff.

In contrast to this high-tech scenario I’ve had the immense good fortune, having married into maple, of seeing the process at its most pioneer-like. My wife’s family, The Purvis’s obtained their original 400 acres of farmland and bush near Brockville, Ontario, in the form of an 1812 War land grant. At some point in the 1840’s they built a stone farmhouse. This is the house my wife grew up in, shaded by massive ancient sugar maples tapped for generations to produce the family’s annual batch of maple syrup.

#13 Syrup Street

If you’re looking for a holistic wellness program, I can’t recommend syrup making strongly enough. Endless lungfuls of bracing fresh air in a deeply natural setting, hiking through the bush carrying heavy buckets, mounting the pick-up truck, unloading the heavy antique milk cans and filling the boiler; it’s like CrossFit at Walden Pond.

Graham’s bucket list

After your workout you bask in the sap spa, the makeshift boiling tent where 40 units of sap is reduced into 1 unit of syrup and you steam yourself in the clouds of sweet mist coming out of the wood-fired evaporator. While you gently steam, it’s recommended you re-fortify with constant sampling.

Boiling Up

So, I count myself lucky to be included in this sweet tradition. For those of you who don’t have a tapping family, you can still enjoy this elemental distillation of Canada’s natural flavour. Just include a bottle of maple syrup on your next Sanagan’s shopping list.

Ted and Laurel Purvis

Ted (right) started early

Best of the Wurst

How do you like to spend your days off in the winter? If you’re anything like me, you’re happy to enjoy the bit of snow we are getting this year, while taking advantage of the opportunity to savour warming, hearty dishes. A couple of weekends ago in Toronto, while St. John’s got hit with a massive snowstorm we received a comparatively small, but not inconsequential, amount of snow.  Knowing this snow was on its way, I was happy to have loaded up on a couple of new sausages from our resident charcutier, Scott.

Ingenuity and development are two of our core values at Sanagan’s, and few people embody those as Scott does. He isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, but is constantly working on further developing his recipes and techniques in search of the best possible product.  His recent improvements with emulsions and sausages has led to three new (for us) varieties: Montbeliard, Bockwurst, and Knackwurst (or saucisse d’Alsace).

All three sausages may be included in the classic Alsatian dish choucroute garnie. Choucroute is a dish without a single specific recipe. Rather, it typically includes sauerkraut, sausages, and a wide variety of other meat/potato/vegetable components. For my version, I used all three of Scott’s sausages, a smoked ham hock, sauerkraut, and Cookstown Greens organic potatoes. It was as easy as it could be to make; essentially braising the ham hock in the sauerkraut with white wine and stock, adding the sausages and potatoes towards the end, shredding the meat from the hock, and serving with lots of mustard. This  left me lots of time through the day to enjoy it with my boys and shovel the driveway twice.