Pancake Day a.k.a. Shrove Tuesday was one of the highlights of our heathen/Christian childhood calendar. You understood there was some vague religious thing about it but what really mattered was — pancakes for dinner! And pancakes means maple syrup.
Sanagan’s maple and birch syrups are produced by Shady Grove Maple in Woolwich Ontario, just outside of Guelph. There, Heather and Dan Goetz tap their woodlots and undertake the labour intensive process of turning sap into syrup. Now, lest you have visions of maples trees festooned with old metal buckets and a rustic sugar shack out by the beaver pond, understand that Shady Grove is serious operation. Across 15 local woodlots, they have over 30,000 taps operating on a vacuum system. They can process 4000 gallons of sap per hour. This is what allows them to reliably supply us with GRADE A AMBER maple syrup. Out of the four maple syrup grades; golden, amber, dark and very dark, amber is your classic table syrup; the lustrous pour that provides the definitive Canadian breakfast. And if some of that syrup spills over into the bacon pile? Smoke, sweet, salt, fat; it’s like making love to a lumberjack.
Maple syrup is the king but birch syrup is its lesser-known and surprising sibling. The birch sap season is later and shorter and you need almost twice as much sap to make the syrup. The result of this painstaking process is a thick and dark syrup with a revelatory flavour featuring notes of molasses, licorice and a long tangy fruity finish. Its vibrant flavour will enliven your vinaigrettes, marinades and glazes.
Shady Grove syrups are just one of the many Ontario-made sauces, pickles and condiments that make us so much more than just a butcher shop.