Local Producer Spotlight
Giffin’s Maple Syrup Products
By Rylee Wallace
Growing up in a sugar shack sounds like every kid’s dream!
As a young girl, Diane Rivard, co-owner of Giffin’s Maple Syrup Products, remembers helping her parents, Jean and Don Giffin, make maple syrup. Diane, a 3rd generation maple syrup expert, would sit and watch as her parents tapped their Blenheim sugar bush trees. They would collect the sap and boil it down into that deliciously sweet syrup.
Both Don and Jean grew up similar ways on their respective family farms. Jean grew up making the sweet syrup on her families Elgin County farm. Don, known around Blenheim as ‘Mr. Maple’, is remembered to this day for his maple syrup prowess. “My dad was boiling down sap on his mom’s stove one day when it boiled over, making such a mess he wasn’t allowed to do it in the kitchen ever again,” said Diane. In 1983, the couple took the leap, officially turning their passion into a business. Giffin’s Maple Syrup Products was born.
They started selling from their home, farm markets, and fairs around the county, often with Diane in tow.
They started selling from their home, farm markets, and fairs around the county, often with Diane in tow. Their years of hard work paid off when Giffin’s won the World Championship for Maple Syrup Products at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, not once, but four years in a row from 1997 to 2000. Jean continues with the fair, now acting as a judge for the competition for more than 20 years.After moving away for a while, Diane and her husband Adrian Rivard returned to Chatham-Kent to continue the legacy her parents worked hard to build.
So, how does the magic happen?
Diane explains sap begins to flow as early as mid-January in South Western Ontario. A pipeline system is set up in two sugar bushes located on their home farm in Blenheim. The sap then goes high tech. Adrian watches closely as it flows down the lines and filters through a reverse osmosis machine. He then manages the evaporator, keeping it at a specific temperature to boil the sap down in the family’s well-over century-old sap barn. Once the syrup is in its final stage, it takes a short trip over to their CFIA licensed facility, where it’s bottled and processed to be enjoyed at your table.
Can you believe it takes 40 litres of sap to make one litre of the delicious maple syrup?
Although maple syrup has been their namesake for nearly 40 years, Diane says they’re experimenting with several new products, including flavourful maple jelly infusions, such as vanilla bean and feisty cherry.
Currently, their most popular treat is their creamy Premium Maple Butter, which is delicious spread onto toast, crepes, crackers, or even straight out of the jar! Their Maple Stirred Sugar is a healthier alternative in baking, added to your morning coffee, or even sprinkled onto caramelized bacon – can you say, “Yes, please!” Last but not least, no sugar maker would be complete without mastering the delicate confectionary art of maple candy.
Looking to get your hands on some of this delicious sweetness? Giffin’s offers curbside pick-up at their farm in Blenheim. You can also find a selection of Giffin’s Maple Syrup Products on our market shelves or through our delivery service!
To stay up to date on all things Giffin’s Maple Syrup Products, you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram! In the Spring of 2021, they’ll also be running the first-ever virtual experience, demonstrating how the evaporator operates. You won’t want to miss it.
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