Terroir in Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is not all the same. One difference is depth of flavor, which is also how maple syrup is graded; "Grade B is the most flavorful, and typically the hardest to get in the US outside of the Northeast," says Karl S. "Vermont syrup grading comes from a time when syrup was a substitute for sugar (as it long was, for example, for abolitionist folk who avoided molasses and sugar because they were the product of slave labor), so the highest grades were for the most neutral flavor. Nowadays, where the flavor is largely the point, Grade B is for many the most desirable."

But there are other variations from farm to farm. "Maple syrup production is subject to some of the same factors as wine production, but with the flavor variation being subtler and harder to taste, says danieljdwyer. "To start with, syrup can be made from a few different species of maple tree, with the sugar maple accounting for most maple syrup production. I prefer syrup that has been made with at least some black maple sap as well," he says. "Climate is another factor, which elevation does play a role in. The greater the number of hours in a day with below-freezing temperatures, the more water the tree takes in, and the lighter the syrup will be. Finally, there's the human element. How good is this farm at reducing the sap to syrup? And what methods do they use?"

"If you buy 10 syrups from 10 different farms, you'll be able to taste a difference," says danieljdwyer. "Unless two of them are right next to each other and tap the same proportions of different maples and have identical reduction methods. Your best bet is to try a few different farms and settle on your favorite."

Discuss: Is all Vermont Maple the same

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