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Mar 23, 2010 05:26 PM

Maple Syrup Tasting

The sap run is well advanced and we noted lines still strung in maple stands on our excursion today. We made our year's first syrup purchase this afternoon from Howard Smith who operates about 1 mile south of Tara on the Arran-Elderslie Line in Bruce County.

The syrup comes from several stands on the land. Certainly it's anything but a commercial blend, which I would never denigrate.

Business is conducted in the same barn workroom as the evaporator in an outbuilding guarded by the obligatory farm-yard dog who greets guests by immediately crowding the first person out of the car looking for a free ride or free gloves. I've met worse.

In the past, we simply plucked a jar of whatever was on offer, paid and enjoyed what we bought with pleasure. Today we had a choice of Canada #1 Light, Canada #1 Medium or Canada #2 Amber. Samples of all three were available in tiny cups similar to restaurant butter containers.

We were finally able to compare grades and there is a huge difference - not so much in taste, but in concentration. Actual taste may vary from producer to producer, but not very much at all in the three samples we tested from this single farm.

For sure the taste was more subtle and refined in the Light and grew as we moved down, but it was essentially the same. The Medium was more assertive and the Amber even more so. I always thought that there would be taste difference as I moved down the grades but couldn't find much

In the end we opted for the #2 Amber, well, I didn't, but...

Without adult supervision I would opt for #1 medium next time.

Cost was $10/500 ml for any grade. As we were leaving Howard was about to process "Dark" which is super intense and the preferred grade to use in cooking/baking.

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  1. Awesome! Thanks for all the info. Wish I could check out this place, but unfortunately it's too far a drive for me. I'm considering checkin' out the Sugarshack Maple Syrup Festival at the Kortright Centre sometime soon. Ever been? Not worth the $8 to see sugar shack demos and to sample sap? Hmm. Any insight would be helpful.

    2 Replies
    1. re: shelleypascual

      Went to Kortright last week. Its mostly for my kid, but I did enjoy sampling the sap and syrup. There are some interesting factoids along the walk. The pancakes, sausage and coffee really hit the spot after the hike. It was a little muddy, so dress appropriately.

      I prefer Bronte Creek, just cause there is more for my kid to do, more animals and a playbarn. I bought maple syrup there, $40 for 2L last year. We'll go again once the weather improves.

      1. re: jnine

        jnine, thanks a bunches! I plan on visiting Kortright next week, and indeed going on the walk. I was wondering whether the pancakes were any good... and I might just try 'em now. Did they offer buttermilk and buckwheat pancakes?

    2. This sounds fascinating, can you share the name of the place, is it open to the public and on weekdays?

      1. Looks to be:
        Contact: Howard Smith

        3450 Bruce Rd 10, R.R.#2, Tara ,N0H 2N0

        Phone: (519)934-2919

        This came from

        1 Reply
        1. re: Spelunk

          The same.

          Mapquest doesn't work but Google finds it. They retail pretty well all year long and do honey as well.

          Very informative web site, thank you - bookmarked.