Maple Syrup Grades
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With no preservatives, additives or chemicals, pure maple syrup is a wild crafted natural product. If it says "pure", the maple syrup you are using is 66.0 to 68.5 % sugar, regardless of its colour or taste. Like most agricultural commodities in Canada, maple syrup has different grade distinctions. The ability of "grading" or affixing a Canadian grade to agricultural products is only endorsed by federally licensed food producing or processing facilities. Any agricultural product in Canada that posses a standard Canadian grade must be produced or processed by a licensed facility which must pass a number of checks and adhere to stringent and specific guidelines pertaining to quality, safety and product support. The system has been developed to give the consumer some indication of the quality and overall consistency of the agricultural products they are purchasing. By reviewing the Federal grade on produce and other food stuffs a consumer can be assured that the product is being procured or processed in a manner that is safe, hygienic and of top quality. It also allows consumers to make a more informed purchasing decision.
If you purchase a container of pure maple syrup in Canada look for the Federal grade marking. It will look like this; Canada No. 1 Medium The "Canada No. 1" is the Grade and the "Medium" is the Colour Class.
The Canadian Federal grades for pure maple syrup are; Canada No. 1, 2 and 3. The grade affixed to a specific bottle or container of syrup is determined primarily by the maple syrups colour class. But some exceptions do occur.
Canada No. 1
Canada No. 2
Canada No. 3
The colour classes include; extra light, light, medium, amber and dark. The colour class of maple syrup is determined by the amount of light that will pass through the syrup, also known as light transmission. The more light that passes through the maple syrup the higher the colour class will be.
Although each colour class of maple syrup is within the same brix range, requires the same processing time and meets all the requirements of the label "pure maple syrup", the general rule is the lighter the grade the milder the flavour. The colour class of maple syrup is largely determined by the climatic conditions of the season and the time within the season when it was made. Although the chemistry within the maple sugar creating the different grades is complex, the general rule of thumb is in the early season a lighter syrup is made and as the season progresses the syrup darkens and becomes a bit more flavourful. Although it is completely personal preference, most people prefer the medium grade of maple syrup as it has a great mild to medium maple flavour and a wonderful maple colour. For more information on pairing maple syrup with food please view this. For more information on cooking with maple syrup please visit here.
Each colour class has a corresponding grade, as noted in the table below. Canada No. 1 refers to the top three colour classes which are the lighter coloured syrups. Canada No. 2 is used to denote the Amber colour class which is a syrup that is darker and a little stronger in flavour. Canada No. 3 is used to denote Dark maple syrup, which is the strongest flavoured syrup, with often a buddy or off-flavoured tastes associated with it.
Canada No. 1 Canada No. 2 Canada No. 3
Extra Light Amber Dark
As mentioned earlier an exception does apply. The grade, Canada No. 3, can be used to denote off-flavour or deteriorated syrup regardless of colour class. For example, a container of maple syrup that has a colour class of light may not taste very good due to natural metabolizing, decomposition or other similar conditions and can be labeled "Canada No. 3 Light.
Below is a chart outlining the Canadian colour classes, grades and % light transmission values. As there is no international standard for grades and colours, the corresponding US grades and colour classes are also listed.
Acadian Maple products operates a Federally licensed maple packaging facility. As a result you will note that we place a Canadian grade on all of our pure maple syrup. We feel this is not only necessary, but is very important for our customers. We take great pride in the fact that we are allowed to place these grades on our products and ensure that only our qualified, in-house certified maple grader using modern, digital meters and equipment, tests, analyzes and determines the grades of the maple syrup that we pack.
Next time you pick up a jug of Acadian Maple Products pure maple syrup take note of the grade and rest assured that the delicious item you hold in your hand has been processed and packaged by qualified personnel in a facility that exceeds all industry best practices.
- William Allaway