Making the Grade
Have you ever noticed the maple grade stickers on our maple syrup? Do you know what those grades mean?
Some of you ask us for specific grades when you buy our syrup, but the majority of you probably read that sticker once and then forget about it.
Maple syrup can be classified into 4 grades: Golden, Amber, Dark and Very Dark. These classifications are based on the color and flavor of the syrup; the darker the color of the syrup, the stronger the maple flavor is.
Here's a little more about each of the maple grades:
Golden - light golden color and mild maple flavor. This is usually syrup made from early season sap.
Amber - light amber (red-brown) color and rich/sweet maple flavor. This is what most people are looking for when they want maple syrup.
Dark - dark amber (more brown than red) color and strong maple flavor. This is the second most popular request we get, usually by people who want "more" of a maple flavor.
Very Dark - brown color and intense maple flavor. This is a late-season syrup and is preferred by people who cook with maple syrup (like in our granola) because the flavor holds up.
So, what causes the difference in color and flavor?
There are many variables that effect maple syrup, including location, soil and temperature. One of the most "predictable" variables is sugar. The sugar content of the sap varies as the maple season progresses. All maple syrup is made by boiling sap until enough water evaporates so that it reaches the right density to be considered syrup. Early sap tends to have a higher sugar content; higher sugar means that it requires less time to boil. Less time boiling means that there is less time for the sap to brown in the evaporator. Boiling time also effects the flavor; the longer the sap boils, the more time it has to develop the maple flavor. The fun of the Golden and Amber syrups is that the maple taste is light enough that it allows other flavors to come through, like vanilla.
In the end, the RIGHT maple syrup is whichever one tastes best to you.