What a difference a year makes. Last year the temperature was 80 degrees and 100 in the sugarhouse while boiling. Today the temp got up to 30 degrees and no sap yet for the season. It is looking like the season will start next week, maybe. We have all the taps in and finishing up on the small things.
We travel to the D&G factory in Montreal for their open house in May. The main reason was to sign up to be a dealer for Dominion & Grimm which we did. We were also interested in seeing their new wood pellet fired evaporator that they had boiling during the show. We prefer to burn wood chips and were told that a wood chip version was in the works. The unique feature of this evaporator is that the fuel is fed from the back and the front also has a door for loading firewood. If you were to run out of chips you can keep going by burning firewood. We have had a few good seasons when we were getting close to running out of wood chips and the option of a dual fuel burner is something that we would like to have. Next year we may replace our home made wood chip burner with the D&G wood chip version if it works out. A picture of one is on our equipment page.
Maple syrup is a pure, natural sweetener. All grades of maple syrup are identical in density and have a sugar content of 66.9%. Maple syrup is graded primarily on its color, which can range from almost colorless to a dark brown. Generally the first syrup produced during the season has the lightest color and the color deepens as the season progresses. As the temperatures warm in the spring, the sugar content of the sap tends to fall, requiring a longer boiling period, therefore producing a darker syrup. There are generally four different grades used for distinguishing maple syrup and they are Grade A Light Amber, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber and finally Grade B.
Grade A Light Amber is the lightest colored of the syrups, generally produced during the earliest part of the season and has the most delicate flavor. This grade is wonderful for producing the finest maple candies and sugars. It can be used on pancakes, waffles, french toast and fresh fruits.
Grade A Medium Amber is darker than the Light Amber, has a slightly more pronounce maple flavor and is a great topping for ice cream, fresh fruit and the usual pancakes, waffles and french toast.
Grade A Dark Amber is produced during the middle of the season, as the weather continues to warm. It has a rich maple flavor and is a great choice for baking as well as being used as table syrup. This syrup is terrific as a glaze for ham, a sweetener in baked beans and adds a wonderful flavor to squash. When using it in baked goods, make sure you adjust the liquids slightly.
Grade B is the darkest of the syrups and has the strongest maple flavor. This is the last syrup produced during the season and has a very intense maple flavor and dark, rich color. This is usually the best syrup for cooking because of it’s strong flavor.