Barrhaven Christmas Sale

Today, Sunday December 4th, we’re at the Barrhaven Christmas Sale today selling maple syrup and maple confectioneries.  The address is 199 Berrigan drive in Barrhaven, Ottawa.  If you’re in the area come check us out!  Other vendors are featuring products like handmade soaps, baby and kids clothes, woodworking, aromatherapy, Tupperware, Christmas Cards and more.

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Arnprior Christmas Craft-Bake-Business Fair

I’ve been in the kitchen all day today preparing for the One of a Kind Christmas Craft-Bake -Business Fair, happening from 10:00-4:00 this Saturday in Arnprior at the Nick Smith Centre, 77 James St.  On the docket for today was 2 batches of maple butter.  Tomorrow I’ll change my focus to maple cones, then Thursday on to maple pies, and fudge on Friday.  By the end of the week my house will be full of sweet smells of decadence, aromas of maple perfuming the air.  This will be my first time attending the Arnprior craft fair.  It’s a bit further from home, yet still local and I’m still hopeful to see some familiar faces.  My hopes are that branching out to the Arnprior fair will help in distinguishing Julia’s Tree Stand Maple Syrup as a local, high quality maple syrup brand.

If you’re an Arnprior local, come find me at the fair!  For more info, click here.  Hope to see you there!

About

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My Seasonal Harvest blog is an effort to share my passion for the outdoors, nature and the environment with others, and connect with like-minded individuals.  Here I share my experiences as a maple syrup producer, beekeeper and gardener.

I love good food.  Moreover, I genuinely appreciate knowing where my food comes from.  Knowing how my food got from its raw state to my plate gives me great satisfaction: knowing the trees my maple syrup came from, knowing the garden my vegetables were grown in, knowing my bees have access to food that hasn’t been sprayed with toxic chemicals, or pesticides.  This is why I am a maple syrup producer, a  beekeeper, and a gardener.

The maple syrup pursuits I share here are really family pursuits.  A tremendous amount of work goes into the maple syrup season and I am thankful to everyone who helps out. The slogan of Julia’s Tree Stand Maple Syrup, From my trees to your table should really be ‘From our trees…’ or at the very leastFrom my family’s trees…’.  I chose to use ‘my’ to emphasize that I am involved in every step of the process and know exactly what is in my maple syrup, that I am confident it is 100% pure.

My newest pursuit, beekeeping gives me great joy.  I am thrilled to see my colonies grow and flourish.  For me, beekeeping is a natural extension of my passion for the outdoors, environment and nature.

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Maple Syrup Products

I produce a number of sweet treats.  My maple syrup is bottled in a number of different sizes, including 250mL, 500mL, 1L, 1.89L.  The maple products I create from my maple syrup are maple butter, maple fudge, and a very decadent maple pie (think mapley butter tart).  Next year I will start harvesting honey from my bees.  I’ve been told to expect to get anywhere 50-100 lbs of surplus honey per hive.  Multiply that by 8 hives and I’m going to be swimming in it.  I think that’s when I’ll hang out my shingle and start selling honey and honey-based products.  Until then I’ll experiment with different recipes to find the best flavour, and try my hand at making lotions, beeswax lip balms and candles, etc.

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Maple Recipes

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Well true to my word I have been testing out maple recipes.  My oh my I have found some that are good … knock-your-socks-off good.  I am aiming for the perfect balance of sweetness.  So far I’ve found decadent recipes for maple cones, maple fudge, and just last night I made a dynamite recipe for maple pie – not too sweet, perfect consistency, lavish maple flavor.

I find it interesting to note that while bottling, taste-testing each batch (for quality assurance purposes of course) revealed an array of flavor notes (purely sweet, strongly maple, lingering sweetness, etc.).  These flavor notes are strongest when the syrup is sampled on its own, or on an ice cream parfait.  If you’ve got an idea of a recipe for me to try, please leave me a comment :).

Drill Press

We bought a drill press at Ottawa Fastener and Supply Shop’s ‘April Tools Day’ event on Thursday.  The worker who helped us, Bruce, was a wealth of information on buying the right tool to meet our needs, assembly, use, limitations, and care of the piece.  He listened to our requirements, helped us decide on the right model, and even helped us save some money too.  My hat goes off to him for a job well done.

Yesterday, AJ, myself and my Dad convened in the garage to put it together.  It’s a mighty good thing that Bruce gave us such a good tutorial because the instructions that came in the box certainly left much to be desired.  Regardless, we got the thing together.  Ooohh it’s a beaut!  We’ll be able to use it for cleaning buckets, putting together bee-hives and so many other tasks.  Picture of drill press in all of it’s glory soon to follow.

 

New Equipment!

Ottawa Tool and Fastener Supply is having a sale and we might be buying a drill press tomorrow!  I never thought I would be this excited to get a workshop tool.  The hours and days of back-breaking bucket cleaning are over!! ….Hopefully…!  Plus, now we have the precision drilling tool needed for putting together the beehives.  Excellent.

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Finishing

This has been the longest maple syrup season for us so far.  We have nearly finished all of the processed syrup.   This past week we’ve had some 14 hour boils and even one 16 hour boil.  And now a drum roll please – we were at a total of 294 Litres  and Sunday’s finishing pushed us over 300 Litres.  What a season!  Now it’s time for me to roll up my sleeves and get to work marketing my maple syrup and maple syrup products.

Final Last Day

Today is our final, last day of maple syrup production.  I feel like I’ve been a broken record about that lately; I’ve said this is our final day for three days now. To elaborate, we can only finish so much syrup at a time in our finishing unit.  Then we take that batch of syrup in to be bottled.  All in all, it takes roughly 2.5-3 hours for us to finish a batch.  We managed to get three done yesterday before calling it quits.  We are finding the “bottleneck” in our process is the filtering stage; when it was cold out I could understand how the syrup would cool down too much to flow well through the filter, but we’re finding even in the warmer weather it’s still getting hung up and slowing us down.  I will focus on brainstorming improvements in this area for next year.

Getting back to my point, today is our final, last day.  Whew!