Trappist monks made Oka world-famous for cheese.

Dwelling in tradition, the monks pray seven times a day and follow the rule of St. Benedict.

For years, those customs also applied to food – their cheese-making process has remained consistent since the 1800’s.

The recipe was sold to Agropur in the 1980’s, and in 2009, the monks left the monastery and moved to St-Jean-de-Matha to churn out a bevy of other tasty treats.

“Many of them believe we still make [Oka cheese],” explained Brother Bruno Marie. “I think Agropur plays on that, doing advertisements of monks making cheese so people still believe we do it.”

Today, their production is distinctly 21st century – producing and jarring handmade caramel alongside a handful of employees.

The monks recently came up with a new treat that quickly became a best-seller: chocolate-covered fruitcake.

Another unique product inspired by the natural surroundings in St-Jean-de-Matha is syrup made from fir trees.

“The needle of the fir tree, you just put it in water and wait – then you can drink it, you add sugar,” Marie explained. “You can put that on yogurt, hot water, vodka, or gin. You cannot find that on the market. We are the only ones up to now.”

The monks sell their products in a gift shop down the road from the monastery and online, fulfilling a pledge made in the year 1093 to work for a living.

“It’s in our rules – we have to work so we don’t have to ask for money from the people outside,” Marie added.