The sap run is well advanced and we noted lines still strung in maple stands on our excursion today. We made our year's first syrup purchase this afternoon from Howard Smith who operates about 1 mile south of Tara on the Arran-Elderslie Line in Bruce County.
The syrup comes from several stands on the land. Certainly it's anything but a commercial blend, which I would never denigrate.
Business is conducted in the same barn workroom as the evaporator in an outbuilding guarded by the obligatory farm-yard dog who greets guests by immediately crowding the first person out of the car looking for a free ride or free gloves. I've met worse.
In the past, we simply plucked a jar of whatever was on offer, paid and enjoyed what we bought with pleasure. Today we had a choice of Canada #1 Light, Canada #1 Medium or Canada #2 Amber. Samples of all three were available in tiny cups similar to restaurant butter containers.
We were finally able to compare grades and there is a huge difference - not so much in taste, but in concentration. Actual taste may vary from producer to producer, but not very much at all in the three samples we tested from this single farm.
For sure the taste was more subtle and refined in the Light and grew as we moved down, but it was essentially the same. The Medium was more assertive and the Amber even more so. I always thought that there would be taste difference as I moved down the grades but couldn't find much
In the end we opted for the #2 Amber, well, I didn't, but...
Without adult supervision I would opt for #1 medium next time.
Cost was $10/500 ml for any grade. As we were leaving Howard was about to process "Dark" which is super intense and the preferred grade to use in cooking/baking.