Maple syrup is graded according to it's color; hence, taste. Here are the three grades sold to consumers in New York state:
Grade A Light Amber--mild, delicate flavor
Grade A Medium Amber--fuller flavor
Grade A Dark Amber--strong maple flavor
Some interesting facts about Maple Syrup
- Because most syrup as been tapped from trees that have not had herbicides or pesticides applied, maple syrup is normally considered to be organic. However, to be officially approved as Organic, the sap collecting and syrup producing facility has to pass a NY state inspection and the property the maple trees are on cannot be adjacent to any farming operation that used pesticides.
- Once opened, a container of maple syrup will keep for about 6 months if refrigerated. It can also be stored in the freezer for longer periods.
- Squirrels like maple sap and they can get it to start running when the weather warms up by biting off some of the tree's bark. They drink the sap that runs out and the sap also attracts birds and insects.
- Bottled syrup can start to crystallize. You can ignore the crystals and just use the syrup OR you can pour off the syrup, add a little water to the crystals and heat in the microwave to dissolve them. Then just pour the syrup back into the bottle.
- Very occasionally, the syrup will become moldy. If this happens, according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension, you should transfer the syrup to a pan, skim off the mold, bring the syrup to a boil and then put the now mold-free syrup into a new container.
- If you want to use maple syrup in a recipe, here is the conversion: 1 cup of white sugar=¾ cup of maple syrup. So to account for this, you need to reduce the liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons for each cup of syrup substituted.
Organic vs. Non-Organic Pure Maple Syrup
The difference between Organic and Non-Organic maple syrup is quite basic. It is true that not all maple syrup is certified Organic, but generally all maple syrup is made in the same way. Maple trees are tapped and sap is collected and boiled. Non-Organic and Organic maple syrup producers are both required to have a state license and be inspected annually by the USDA to maintain this license. This state/USDA inspection is necessary to insure that the syrup is processed and handled in a safe, sanitary and legal manner. The Organic Certification takes one more inspection by an Organic inspector who goes over many of the same USDA guidelines with a few additions.
No chemicals or pesticides are used on the trees or in the general area.
Records must be kept as to when and where each drop of Organic syrup was made.
Tree maintenance and health are considered by enforcing tapping guidelines for the producer and their trees.
This added inspection and record keeping is really what makes the difference between Organic and Non-Organic Certified Pure Maple Syrup. Although, most Non-Organic maple syrup is also made without any chemicals or pesticides there is no guarantee of it unless you buy Organic Syrup. International guidelines for producing maple syrup are generally the same as the Organic guidelines. It is simply that the Organic Inspection verifies these practices are actually taking place.