Just like the diverse palette of colours and seasons that characterizes the Canada, maple syrup has a way to make you feel different emotions in every aroma. You can easily savor the softness of the flowering stage in spring or the strength of our Canadian winters. Your taste buds can discern a whole range of colours. Although, depending on your preferences, you might not like all types of maple syrup. Indeed, there are various grades of maple syrup and here is how to identify them.
The difference between the colour grades are mostly related to the flavor that they have. There are four distinct categories on that scale. In the perspective that the colour has to fit with the taste, beforehand, the producer evaluates how light passes through the liquid, also known as ‘’the transmission of light’’, to categorize into the different grades. Obviously, a pale syrup has a highest percentage of light transmission and the darker has a lower rate. The palest, with a golden colour, has a more delicate taste whilst the darkest, brownish colour, has a very strong flavor. Two balanced grades also exist between them. The paler the syrup, the more delicate it is and the darker the syrup, the stronger the taste. There can’t be a dark syrup that taste delicate and vice versa, these would be anomalies and those are not exported nor sold to consumers. The maple syrup producers sort all the syrups and taste them, to make sure it doesn’t happen. It takes a lot of skills and most of all, experience over the years, to develop a tasting capability strong enough to categorize the different flavors. They are the first step in the quality control and then, the Acer Division Inspection Inc verifies if the whole production respects the grading norms. It is really important because the consumers rely on that, it’s a landmark that is a certainty in time and this is reassuring for them. They know what to expect with the grades of colours. It’s pretty much a convention, you couldn’t change that without confusing some people in the way. However, if you have trouble identifying the different grades of maple syrup, don’t you worry, there are labelling obligations. Therefore, the producers must put certain important information on the containers. Amongst others, they have to identify the category, the grades and the colour directly on the label.
Even if there are some variations in the colours and tastes, the quality remains the same. They all have the same norms to attain, hence, they all have an equivalent value. It’s the producers that need to make sure of that when they categorize the syrup.
But if the quality between the grades is not alternate, what creates that variation? The cause of this variety is simply the seasonal course. Through the production of maple syrup, the colour of the product changes. As a matter of fact, the maple water collected at the beginning of the production season transforms into the palest grades and the one collected at the end turns into darker syrups. There is no additive, it’s nature only that creates that variation. Even if the quality doesn’t vary, the composition does a little, the most preeminent difference is the sugar composition. Three sugars are contained in maple syrup: saccharose, fructose and glucose. Their taste of sweetness is really different, so it affects the production flavor. Saccharose is a sugar that taste less sweet and fructose and glucose have a sweeter flavor. A lot of saccharose is found in the first batches of syrup of the year. Therefore, the lighter maple syrup seams to taste less sweet. However, during the rest of the spring, the level of fructose and glucose is higher and the syrup produced seems to have a sweeter flavor. The quantity of sugar contained in the different grades is pretty much the same, it’s the sweetness of the taste that varies more.
Which colour grade is the best? That is not a question that I can answer for you. It really depends on your preferences and the things that you use it for. Some people favor a strong taste, while others prefer a delicate flavor of maple. Other than that, you can choose a grade in particular depending on what you plan on cooking it with. If you want to have a stronger flavor, almost like an essence, you could go with the darker one. For instance, darker syrups stand out more with ingredients that also have a strong flavor. Therefore, no ingredients are overpowered, they have the same level of tastiness. For example, in a marinade, a stronger syrup would make the meat stand out, but a delicate one, would most likely create a boring dish. However, on your pancakes, you could prefer to have a more delicate taste, that compliments perfectly the lighter flavors. According to some statistics, the two grades that are in the middle of this scale are the ones that are the most produced in Canada. Following the principle of supply and demand, this would mean that these are the most bought by consumers. We follow the consumer’s likings, because we produce an amber syrup, that has a rich taste. It goes pretty much with everything and if I dare say, it is the best on pancakes. Despite these statistics, I think you should discover your own likings in term of maple and try the different grades. Mostly, it depends on your preferences.