The Great Return of the Sugar Shacks

Sugar shacks are about to experience their first normal season, to the delight of Quebecers, after three years of hiatus. Tip: book early!

Sugar season is in full swing! The winter has been fickle this year, but the warm temperatures of February have favored the production of maple syrup. “Les érablières du Québec were able to test their maple sap tubes. For production, this is good news! “explains Stephanie Loren, President of the Quebec Foster and Sugar Bush Association (ASEQC).

Peak season runs from March 15 to April 15, but some sugar shacks open at the end of February. We imagine that everyone wants canteens to be filled, which has not been for a long time: “The sugar shacks are finally out of the woods! Stephanie Lauren exclaims. We can say that this is our first real sugar season since 2019. It was a long time ago. »

Hut, but what kind of hut?

While sugar shacks are part of Quebec’s heritage, they have also evolved over time. According to Stephanie Loren, in order to choose the right sugar bowl, you must first ask yourself your dietary requirements: vegetarian, high quality, gluten free? Many sugar bushes now offer adapted menus, which was not the case some time ago.

Another criterion to consider concerns the facilities around the maple grove: “Many sugar shacks have landscaped their exterior to offer activities. Often this is a moment that we spend with the family, for example, people like to be able to take a walk in the forest. My sugar shack has a train that takes customers,” says the owner of Chalet des Érables in Sainte-Anne-de-Plain.

And if you don’t want to miss the snow toffee (maple toffee), it’s best to book. Especially if you plan to go there with a group and on weekends. More and more cabins are offering online booking, a good way to check availability for self-organization. And above all, it avoids long queues!

New generation sugar bowl

Due to the pandemic, sugar shacks have also had to reinvent themselves. My Shack at Home is a takeaway sugar shack food formula that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home. Good news: if this more relaxed formula suits you best, be aware that some cabins continue to offer it this year. My Cabin at Home is an interesting choice for people who don’t like big tables or are afraid of crowds, says Stephanie Loren. There are also people who find it difficult to move around. Huts are often located far from large centers. For all these people, this is a good option. Finally, it is an economical formula that allows you to prepare several dishes, because the menu is very generous in most cases.

Another novelty, sugar shacks in the lunch formula! With a menu based on eggs, ham and sugar, why not take advantage of sugaring time with a brunch formula? “On busy weekends, my sugar shop is open from 8:30 in the morning, and I have the same number of people as at noon or in the evening. This allows more people to be accommodated and gives customers more time to digest.

Inflation and Labor for Sugar

Beware, however, of rising food prices. Some products have risen in price this year, such as eggs, pork or meat. A challenge for the cabins, which also have to adapt.

As for the labor force, there is no shortage. According to the president of the association, many students get their first job at the sugar shack. It is not uncommon for young people to come to work with their parents or friends to experience the sugaring experience. This is a seasonal job and a real social experience. » A warm atmosphere that attracts employees and allows everyone to have a good time.

Also Read: Dark, Milk, Organic, Fair or Raw Chocolate?

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