Shaw’s Maple Products Featured in Good Life Magazine, with Maple Recipes

“Maple syrup has always been a part of my life,” says the 44-year-old Shaw. “Some of my earliest childhood memories are helping my family tap trees and label maple syrup jars during the sugar season.”
Shaw’s great-grandfather, Thomas James Shaw, started producing the mouth-watering delicacy with his great-great-grandfather, Thomas Shaw, in 1904. Today, the Shaw family is still tapping many of those same maple trees, along with a few new ones. “Some of the maple trees are over 300 years old,” explains the local farmer.
In the early days, Shaw’s ancestors made the maple syrup with three cast iron pots, beside a lean-to. “We’ve definitely modernized the operation since then,” admits Shaw, who now operates the business with his wife Terri-Lynn, and their two children – 18-year-old Beth, and Brett, 16.
The 80-acre farm in Oro-Medonte Township has about 6,000 taps and houses a country pancake house and a gift shop that sells everything maple syrup, including maple barbecue sauce. “People get a kick out of coming to see how maple syrup is made,” says Shaw, who has been involved in running the family business for more than 20 years. “They really enjoy the whole farm-to-table experience.”
Pure maple syrup is sap that has been boiled until much of the water has evaporated. When sap begins to flow (usually in mid-March), it is collected through plastic tubing. Then, in a process called sugaring off, the sap is boiled in large evaporators.
The syrup must be taken off at the right moment, strained and bottled. When first tapped, maple sap is thin, barely sweet and colourless, made up of about 97-per-cent water, Three-per-cent maple sugar and 0.1-per-cent minerals. The bottled pure maple syrup is 34-per-cent water and 66-per-cent sugar, with 40 calories per tablespoon.
The Shaws produce their maple syrup with the latest in modern equipment and technology, such as reverse osmosis, a process by which
part of the water is removed from the sap. “There’s no doubt that my ancestors would have been impressed with today’s technology. The reverse osmosis and tubing systems would just blow them away.”
Regardless of the equipment used, the basic principles behind syrup making remain the same. “It’s kind of like Henry Ford’s Model A. The mechanical principles are much like modern cars, just much more advanced and efficient.”
Despite the advances in technology, the maple syrup business remains labour intensive.
Depending upon the weather, the production levels at the sugar bush can range anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 or more litres per year. A carefully tapped mature tree will give, drop by drop, about 12 litres of sap on a warm spring day. During the short season, the average tree will yield between 33 and 47 litres of sap, producing between one-and-a-half litres of pure maple syrup.
In the weeks and months before maple syrup season, the farmer watches the weather very closely. Sap flow is temperamental and temperatures must rise above freezing for several days to trigger it.
Like all farming, production is at the mercy of Mother Nature. “We never expect anything. We just hope. It’s really like any farm, we hope for good weather conditions to produce a good crop.”
Local sugar bushes are ready for a good season. “Last year was the worse we’ve had in a long time. Due to poor weather, we lost 50 per cent of our crop and it was devastating.” But this winter’s colder conditions bring hope. “A good solid cold winter is a better indication of a good production year.”
Despite the hard work and unpredictable nature of the business, Shaw has only good things to say about it. “It’s incredibly rewarding to see so many families enjoying our pancakes and learning how maple syrup is made. The same people have been coming here for decades, and now they are bringing their kids and their grandchildren.”
Terri-Lynn agrees. “The smiles on the kids’ faces make it all worth it.”
Shaw’s Sugar Bush, Pancake House and Ye Olde Maple Treet Shoppe are open Until
April 15, and by appointment in the off-season. The hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week. For more information, call 705-325-4347.


Think maple syrup is only for pancakes?

Well, think again. This sweet staple has culinary versatility. “The delicious taste of maple (either syrup or sugar) can be used in many recipes ranging from desserts to appetizers,” explains Terri-Lynn Shaw of Shaw’s Maple Products and Pancake House near Orillia. “The cooking possibilities are literally endless.”

And she would know. In addition to bottling the liquid gold, the Shaw family manufactures a variety of products ranging from red pepper maple jelly to maple barbecue sauce. “I even use it in my tea biscuits,” Shaw admits.
Maple syrup is the quintessential Canadian sweetener, says Ken McCutcheon of McCutcheon Maple Syrup, whose family has been making maple syrup on their farm in Oro-Medonte for more than 40 years. “There are lots of ways to use it beyond the traditional topping on pancakes,” explains the farmer, whose sugar bush has more than 6,000 taps. “Sweeten your coffee, pour it on bacon, ham, oatmeal, unflavoured yogurt, vanilla ice cream, fresh fruit and berries, carrots and baked squash.” In short, the cooking possibilities are endless.

And it also tastes great. John Williams of Pine House Farm in Wyebridge suggests substituting maple syrup for sugar when making recipes, such as a stir-fry sauce.  “There is a fuller, richer flavour when you use maple syrup in place of sugar,” explains Williams, who has about 3,000 taps in his sugar bush.

Here are some mouthwatering maple syrup recipes to try.

The sweetness of maple syrup makes this salad divine. The dressing recipe is courtesy of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association. The mixed greens, strawberries, cheese and candied almonds were my own addition.

1/4 cup white vinegar
2 Tbsps maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground dry mustard
1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3 Tbsps granulated sugar
2 cups packed torn fresh spinach leaves
2 cups packed torn Boston lettuce
2 cups sliced strawberries
100 grams Applewood Smoked Cheddar, diced into small pieces.

Dressing: In blender or small food processor, combine vinegar, maple syrup, salt, mustard, and paprika; process for 20 seconds. With machine on high, gradually add oil in a slow, steady stream. Makes about 1 cup.
Salad: Toss almonds with sugar in a non-stick frying pan. Stirring constantly, cook on medium heat 6 to 8 minutes or until sugar forms a golden brown syrup and evenly coats the almonds. Remove from heat. Spread almond mixture into a single layer on a sheet of parchment paper; cool. Break into small pieces.
Toss greens and strawberries in large bowl. Drizzle with dressing (about 1/3 cup) just before serving; mix lightly. Sprinkle with almonds and cheese. Serves 4.

Maple Bran muffins are a customer favourite at Shaw’s Pancake House. “We serve these with our maple spread, and they are delicious,” says Terri-Lynn Shaw.

Recipe courtesy of Terri-Lynn Shaw of Shaw’s Maple Products and Pancake House

2-1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp white vinegar
4 cups bran (pellets, not flakes)
2 eggs, large, beaten
1 cup oil
2-1/2 cups pure maple syrup
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsps baking soda
3 tsps baking powder
2 tsps cinnamon

In a medium bowl, mix together milk and white vinegar, and let sit for about 5 minutes. Add bran pellets and let sit for 30 minutes, or until the bran is mushy and the milk has been absorbed. Add eggs, oil and maple syrup; stir.

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a separate medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir into wet mixture until well combined.
Spray muffin pans with Pam or vegetable spray, and then line pans with paper muffin cups. Fill each muffin cup about three-quarters full. Bake until the tops feel firm, about 20 minutes. Makes about 36 muffins.

These mouthwatering tarts are worth every calorie! If using butter in this recipe, be sure to beat the eggs and the rest of the mixture well so that the butter doesn’t separate after baking.
Recipe courtesy of Terri-Lynn Shaw of Shaw’s Maple Products and Pancake House

2 eggs, large
1 cup corn syrup
3-1/2 cups pure maple syrup
2 Tbsps, plus 1 tsp 35% cream (whipping cream)
1 cup melted margarine or butter
24 tart shells

Preheat oven to 325F. In a small bowl, beat eggs well and set aside. In a separate large bowl, combine corn syrup, maple syrup, cream and melted margarine (or butter). Mix well. Give the eggs and another quick beat, and then stir them into the mixture. Combine well. Be careful to add the beaten eggs last, so they don’t cook in the hot margarine (or butter).
Pour mixture into a measuring cup and fill up the tarts shells about three-quarters full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the filling in the tarts looks set (it should look clear, not cloudy) and the pastry is light golden brown.
Yields approximately 24 tarts.

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