Thursday February 20, 2014 | 08:00 AM

Maine and other maple producing states and the Canadian provinces are expected to soon adopt international standards for maple syrup grading. Based on what has been proposed, there will be a grading standard for maple syrup based on color and flavor profiles. There will be two grades. 1) Grade A with 4 classifications: Golden Color, Delicate Taste; Amber Color, Rich Taste; Dark Color, Robust Taste; Very Dark Color Strong Taste and 2) Processing Grade.

Since January 1980, Maple syrup has been graded according to the Canadian, United States, or Vermont standards based on its density and translucency. As a promotion and marketing organization made up of U.S. and Canadian producers and processors, the International Maple Syrup Institute’s (ISMI) primary impetus for changing the grades is to alleviate consumer confusion about the difference between the grades, and have continuity for export markets.

The new maple grading system has been a law in Maine since it was passed and signed by the Governor on May 22, 2103. However it does not take effect until the United States Department of Agriculture, ISMI, and the federal government of Canada have officially adopted the new international system and sent written notice to the Maine legislature. “I expect this process to be very efficient and timely once the USDA and the International Institute notifications are in place,” said Ronald E. Dyer, Director Division of Quality Assurance & Regulations, the Maine Department of Agriculture Conservation & Forestry.

Dyer said Maine’s maple producers will be allowed to use their existing labels and that his staff will work with producers to phase in use of the new labels as the (above) process is underway. Consumers should begin to see the new labels as early as the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015.

 

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Sharon Kitchens is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She writes about bees for The Huffington Post and stuff she loves on her personal blog, deliciousmusings.com.

When she is not writing, she enjoys edible gardening, reading books on food and/or thinking about food, hanging out by her beehives and patiently tracking down her chickens in the woods behind her old farmhouse.

In her blog, Sharon profiles farm families, reports on farm-based education and internships, conducts Q&A's with master beekeepers, offers tips on picking a CSA, and much more.

Sharon can be contacted at kitchens.sharon@gmail.com or on Twitter @deliciousmusing.

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