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Montreal Families

Sugar shacks bring the experience home

The sweet aroma of warm maple syrup, sticky faces after (too much) taffy on snow, and invigorating walks through the forest. A spring visit to one of Quebec’s sugar shacks is a tradition many families enjoy, ours included. While Quebec’s sugar shacks will be allowed to open this year for in-person dining and activities, families can once again order a meal box kit featuring all of their favourites.

Takout Sugar Shack

For the second year in a row, about 50 sugar shacks are taking part in the “Ma cabane à la maison” initiative, a takeout box filled with traditional foods. In 2021, those craving annual traditions and looking to satisfy their sweet tooth bought more than 110,000 boxes, which generated $11.5 million in economic spin-offs in  Quebec.

The take-home project was started in 2021 as an emergency measure to help the struggling maple syrup industry, which was left reeling after the first wave of the pandemic forced the closure of sugar shack dining rooms — resulting in a drop in revenue for the industry of more than 90 per cent.

Stéphanie Laurin, president of the Association des salles de réception et érablières du Québec (ASEQC), says that even though dining rooms can now reopen to the public, the takeout boxes remain an interesting option. Some sugar bushes found the concept to be so popular that they have even adapted their premises by expanding their kitchens to make meal boxes year-round. 

The program continues the tradition of gastronomic delights with menus composed of 90 per cent local products and featuring mouth-watering classics such as maple-glazed ham, baked beans, pea soup, Crêpes, country relishes, and desserts. The menu varies by sugar shack, and you have the options of gastronomical, gluten-free, and traditional specialities that are ready to reheat or come with cooking instructions. If there are special dietary needs, some sugar shacks provide vegetarian, vegan, and pork-free, or are peanut-free.

Order in advance

From the website, you can search for your favourite sugar shack, or choose one nearest to you. These meals need to be ordered in advance and pick up is either from the producer or at one of the 196 participating Metro grocery stores. Some sugar shacks also offer home delivery. It is suggested to order at least 48 hours in advance.

In addition, to support local purchasing and to limit the environmental footprint, Ma cabane à la maison uses made-in-Quebec fully recyclable containers and packaging. Each meal box costs around $30 per person.

Adding to the traditional vibe, the Ma cabane à la maison ambiance page also features colouring pages for kids, a playlist of songs to enjoy, and a recipe to make your own delicious taffy on snow.

All purchases of gourmet boxes are made directly on the sugar shack online stores, accessible via macabanealamaison.com 

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