Grades of Syrup

Yesterday with the return of warm weather the sap began to flow about 2 pm and continued all day and night. Our test tree with a bucket and spile ran about 10 litres and was still running this morning. We expect the sap will continue running until the temperature begins to fall later today. Our tanks at the camp are full and we will be boiling steadily today to catch up.

The colours and grades of maple syrup is often confusing to average person. Here is a brief explanation that may help. The official colours and grades are Gold, Amber, Dark and Very Dark  The colours are based on the amount of light transmittance through the syrup. Golden 75% or higher, Amber 50% to 74%, Dark 25% to49% and Very Dark 24% or less.

All maple syrups regardless of colour have the same amount of sugar ie 66% to 68%. There are three types of sugar in maple syrup – sucrose, glucose and fructose. Sucrose and fructose are the most common. Sucrose is stable at the boiling point of syrup but fructose breaks down to caramel and other byproducts. It is the caramel that gives maple syrup it’s colour and stronger taste. As the weather warms the amount of fructose in the sap increases and darker syrup is usually made at the end of the season. So far this year the weather has been on the cool side and the syrup we have produced has been Golden or Amber with a small amount of Dark. We expect that to change this weekend as the weather warms.

Everyone has a preferred taste of maple syrup and we are often asked which is best. There is no right answer to this question and it really depends on how you plan to use the syrup. Golden is like confectioner’s sugar and is good for a maple glaze.  Amber is like white sugar and is a good general purpose table syrup, Dark syrup, like brown sugar, is good for cooking, and Very Dark is like molasses and good for curing ham or bacon. These are general guidelines and a taste test is really the only way to choose which syrup you like the best!

This weekend is Maple Weekend so many camps will be open for visitors. It’s a perfect time to head out to the county and enjoy the Maple Season.

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