March 25th and 26th is Maple Open House weekend all around Vermont. The Vermont Sugar Makers Association coordinates this event, and you can see the list of the open sugar houses here. Our events page is filling with special maple-themed events that will be taking place. Leading up to the weekend, we're posting some informational articles about maple syrup in Vermont. . . first up, the changes in maple grading - in a post originally published by Dakin Farm.
On January 22nd, 2014 Vermont led the world in adopting a new set of international maple syrup grading standards that the International Maple Syrup Institute, together with the Vermont maple industry had worked on for over 10 years. Other states in the maple producing region of the United States, The USDA and Canada are expected to follow in the near future. While the maple syrup in Vermont will be made to the same exacting standards maintained by generations of Vermont sugar makers, the new maple grading system will assist consumers in choosing their preferred grade of maple syrup based on a color and flavor descriptor.
For many years, Vermont’s four grades of maple syrup had differed from other regions. The states of Maine, New York and Vermont had their own grade names, these differed from USDA standards and other states as well as Canadian grades. This created a great deal of confusion within the marketplace. Now, our new grades will be aligned with all other states and provinces, so that we all use the same grade names. To maintain our premiere position, all syrup made in Vermont will have the word “Vermont” incorporated in the grade name and all syrup made in Vermont is required to be made thicker than the international standard in order to have a better “mouth feel” and flavor. Our new grades expand the range of maple syrup available, yet rest assured it’s the same great, high-quality product you have come to expect from generations of Vermonters. We hope that you will explore all of the grades to find new uses for this all natural, nutritious sweetener and gift from nature, Pure Vermont Maple Syrup.
To find your flavor of choice, we’ve outlined how the old grades will compare to the new.
All of the new Vermont grades for consumer use are called Grade A Pure Vermont Maple Syrup. Once the syrup has been determined to meet Grade A standards, a color and flavor descriptor are applied to help consumers decide which grade they prefer for their particular use.
- Golden Color/Delicate Flavor will be the same color and flavor as Vermont Fancy. It will be light and golden in color with a mild, delicate taste. Golden Color/Delicate Flavor is excellent as a table syrup, in teas or as a topping for ice cream or yogurt.
- Amber Color/Rich Flavor will compare well to Grade A Medium Amber but may be slightly darker in color. Still, it is a lighter amber color with a full-bodied flavor and is a good choice for consumers who prefer the classic maple syrup flavor.
- Dark Color/Robust Flavor will compare well to Grade B and is a dark amber color with a more pronounced maple flavor. Dark Color/Robust Flavor is ideal for consumers who prefer stronger maple syrup flavors. Great for use in recipes, the special flavor of pure maple carries through to your favorite dishes.
- Dark Color/Strong Flavor will be even stronger and darker than Grade B. Almost black in color, this syrup has a very strong flavor that also works well when used in recipes. Dark Color/Strong Flavor will be in limited supply due to the fact that it is made at the very end of the maple season, if conditions are favorable. This syrup can only be labeled as Grade A syrup if its strong flavor remains pure and if there are no “off flavors” which can develop in Very Dark, end of season maple syrup.