Our maple syrup varies in colour and flavour in a completely natural way, directly related to the time at which it is harvested in the sugaring-off season. Early on, the syrup is usually clear with a slightly sweet taste (Golden, Delicate Taste and Amber, Rich Taste). As the season progresses, the syrup becomes darker and more caramelized (Dark, Robust Taste and Very Dark, Strong Taste).
Golden, Delicate Taste
This syrup comes from maple sap harvested at the very beginning of the sugaring-off season. It’s distinguished by its light golden hue and sweet, delicate flavour. It’s a delicious topping for yogourt and ice cream.
Amber, Rich Taste
This syrup has a pure, rich taste and a magnificent amber colouring. It’s ideal as an ingredient in vinaigrettes and all sorts of dishes and desserts.
Dark, Robust Taste
This syrup, with its more pronounced, caramelized flavour, is well-suited for cooking, baking, and sauces. It’s celebrated for the way it enhances the taste of fruity dishes.
Very Dark, Strong Taste
This syrup is the product of maple sap harvested at the end of the sugaring-off season. Its flavour, more pronounced than any of the previously-listed syrups, is rich and distinctive. It colours and perfumes sauces and glazes to perfection.
The classification of maple syrup is based on the colour and authenticity of its maple flavour. This helps consumers choose the best syrup for their desired applications.
There are four classes of maple syrup, based on colour and taste:
- Golden, Delicate Taste
- Amber, Rich Taste
- Dark, Robust Taste
- Very Dark, Strong Taste
There are two grades of maple syrup: Grade A and Processing Grade. Only Grade A maple syrup is sold in stores. It meets the following requirements:
- Free of fermentation
- Uniform in colour
- Free of sediment
- No cloudiness or turbidity
- Maple flavour characteristic of its colour class
- No objectionable odour or taste
Obtained by no other method than concentrating maple sap.
In Quebec, there are two certifications for maple syrup.
Approximately 20% of Quebec maple syrup is certified organic, in accordance with the Act respecting reserved designations and added-value claims. Organic farming standards regulate sugar bush management, plant diversity, fertilization, pest control, tapping, and the collection and processing of the maple sap. All stages in the preparation of maple syrup are strictly detailed in a set of specifications.
And even kosher!
To be certified kosher, maple syrup must adhere to a rigorous production procedure that complies with Jewish dietary laws. Every batch produced by a sugar bush establishment must be inspected and tested by a rabbi in order to obtain this certification. The rabbi verifies that anything coming in contact with the product is also certified kosher: from the equipment to the machinery, from the soap used to wash the equipment to the different additives used to stabilize the foam during boiling.
Today's consumers are used to reading labels at the grocery store. Don't forget to treat maple syrup the same way! Read the label and beware of imposters. Remember, there's nothing more natural than real maple syrup.
How to recognize imitations
To be sure you are buying real maple syrup, read the label on the back of the container carefully.
The big pancake syrup brands do not contain pure maple syrup in their ingredient lists.
Instead they use high fructose corn syrup as their primary sweetener.
They also use artificial flavours and food colouring.
Sometimes artificial syrups include maple syrup in their list of ingredients although it may be as little as 5%. Usually you'll find it way down on the list...
So, don't forget to examine the label to make sure you are buying 100% pure maple syrup and nothing else!