March 20, 2013

Maple syrup's all Grade A, all amber ... but wait, there's more

 

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The color and clarity of a syrup are affected by factors such as the time of year, the cleanliness of the equipment and the amount of bacteria in the syrup. “The grade of a syrup can change on a daily basis, from tree to tree,” said Michael Bryant of Hilltop Boilers.

Photos by Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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All Maine maple syrup commercially sold is U.S. Grade A quality, as defined by Maine law. The syrup is further classified by flavor and color characteristics as light, medium, dark or extra dark amber.

Light Amber

A colored syrup that is most often made from the first brief flows of the season. It has a pronounced sweetness with a very delicate maple flavor.

Medium Amber

Medium Amber has a slightly darker amber color with a gentle but more pronounced maple flavor. This syrup is desirable for pancakes, waffles, French toast and cereal, and is a great all-purpose syrup.

Dark Amber

This syrup has a uniquely balanced maple sweetness that makes it a pleasing syrup for many consumers. Its characteristic flavoring makes it a favorite for cooking as well as a superb table syrup.

Extra Dark Amber

The most robust maple flavor used as a table grade, it makes a great ingredient in your cooking and your favorite recipes (baked beans.) Its hearty maple flavor and less pronounced sweetness are popular with many maple connoisseurs.

– Source: Maine Maple Producers Association

STANDARDIZED GRADING

THE INTERNATIONAL Maple Syrup Institute has proposed a standardized international grading system that would unite maple syrup producers, packers, distributors and consumers. Under the new system, which is expected to be adopted in the next year or two, there would be just four color classes of Grade A syrup (Note: "Percent Tc" means the percentage of light transmission through maple syrup, as measured by a spectrophotometer.)

GOLDEN MAPLE SYRUP WITH A DELICATE TASTE – Color not less than 75 percent Tc.

Pure maple syrup in this class has a light to more pronounced golden color and a delicate or mild taste. It is the product of choice for consumers preferring a lighter-colored maple syrup with a delicate or mild taste.

AMBER MAPLE SYRUP WITH A RICH TASTE – Color 50 to 74.9 percent Tc. Pure maple syrup in this class has a light amber color and a rich or full-bodied taste. It is the product of choice for consumers preferring a full-bodied tasting syrup of medium taste intensity.

DARK MAPLE SYRUP WITH ROBUST TASTE – Color 25 to 49.9 percent Tc. Pure maple syrup in this class has a dark color and a more robust or stronger taste than syrup in lighter color classes. It is the product of choice for consumers preferring a dark-colored syrup with substantial or robust taste.

VERY DARK MAPLE SYRUP WITH A STRONG TASTE – Color less than 25 percent Tc. Pure maple syrup in this class has a very strong taste. It is generally recommended for cooking purposes, but some consumers may prefer it for table use.

Source: International Maple Syrup Institute

 

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