Learn about the grading system of maple syrup and maple syrup density.
You can enjoy perfect maple syrup all year round by tapping your trees and making your own syrup. Depending on when you collect sap, the maple syrup’s color and taste will vary. Learn about maple syrup grades and maple syrup density with Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a maple syrup grading system dependent upon the sugar density, flavor and color of the syrup. The color may vary depending on the method of production, the year and when the sap was collected during the season. The earlier your sap is collected, the lighter it will be in color.
USDA Maple Syrup Grades:
U.S. Grade A Light Amber: Maple syrup that has been tapped in the earliest parts of the season. It is the lightest in color with a delicate and mild flavor.
U.S. Grade A Medium Amber: This maple syrup is made more in the mid season it it darker with a stronger maple taste.
U.S. Grade A Dark Amber: Strongly flavored syrup with a caramel color.
U.S. Grade A Very Dark Amber: This syrup has the strongest taste and is the darkest in color. It is generally used for cooking. However, people do enjoy its taste at the table, too.
How To Use a Maple Syrup Density Hydrometer
There are numerous instruments that can be used to check your maple syrup density: hydrometers, hydrotherms and refractometers. Maple syrup hydrometers are used to measure the maple syrup density at a specific temperature. A candy thermometer can be used to determine the temperature when you’re processing your sap into syrup.
Hydrometer cups are very convenient in determining maple syrup density. They are deep, and the hydrometer can float after each draw off. Make sure the hydrometer does not touch the bottom or the sides of the hydrometer cup. This determines that the reading at the point on the hydrometer stem is level with the surface of the syrup.
Maple Syrup Density
When using a hydrometer, there are two scales to read: Brix and Baume. The Brix scale reads the percentage of sugar in the maple syrup. The Baume scale reads the density of of water related to the density of the maple syrup. Maple syrup must be evaporated to a density between 66% and 67% Brix at 68°F. If you have a density below 66% Brix, the syrup will ferment. If you have a density above 68% Brix, the syrup may crystallize. Maple syrup reaches the proper density at 219.5°F or 7.5° above the boiling point of water.
Now that you’ve learned all about how to tap maple trees, what you need to tap trees and how to process maple sap into syrup you can finally enjoy that gooey goodness on a large stack of homemade pancakes!