On Maple Day, Kentucky maple producers open their facilities, farms and sugarhouses to the public allowing them to purchase local maple products see how maple syrup and maple sugar is made.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 20, 2022) — The Kentucky Maple Syrup Association and the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service will sponsor the third annual Kentucky Maple Day Feb. 5, 2022.
“The maple syrup industry in Kentucky is really growing,” said Billy Thomas, extension forester with the UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. “Kentucky Maple Day is not only a great time for the public to learn more about our burgeoning syrup industry, but producers have told us that it has increased their recognition and business as well.”
Many species of maple trees grow in Kentucky, red maple is prolific
Jacob Muller, assistant professor of hardwood silviculture and forest operations extension in the UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources said “We have more red maple that are an inch or larger in diameter than any other species in Kentucky,” “I encourage landowners to think of their woods as an asset. There are many people in the state who have maple on their property who can take advantage of the trees’ benefits.”
Although the sugar maple is the preferred tree as a source for sap to make maple syrup, the red maple sap can also be used.
Maple syrup is ranked or graded according to the United States, Vermont, or Canada scales based on its translucency and density. Sucrose is the most prevalent sugar in maple syrup and small amounts of Fructose and Glucose are also present. In Canada, syrups must be at least 66 percent sugar and be made exclusively from maple sap to qualify as maple syrup. In the United States, syrups must be made almost entirely from maple sap to be labeled as “maple”, small amounts of substances such as salt are allowed. “Maple flavored” syrups must contain real maple syrup but salt, chemical preservatives and defoaming agents are allowed.
The United States has its own grading standards. Syrup is divided into two grades: Grade A and Grade B. Grade A is further divided into three levels: Light Amber or Fancy, Medium Amber, and Dark Amber. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets grading system is similar and is roughly the same, especially for lighter syrups, but designates grades using letters: “AA”, “A”, etc. The Vermont grading system maintains a slightly higher standard of product density (measured on the Baumé scale). New Hampshire holds a similar standard, but does not have a separate state grading scale. The Vermont-graded product has 0.9 percent more sugar and therefore less water in its composition than US-graded. Commercial or Grade C syrup (syrup not for table use) is also produced under the Vermont system. Vermont inspectors strictly enforce syrup grading regulations, and will fine producers up to $1000 for incorrectly labeling syrup.
Extra Light and Grade A typically have the mildest maple flavor. Grade B is very dark with a strong maple flavor. The dark grades of syrup are preferred for cooking and baking but some specialty dark syrups are produced for table use. People who appreciate the strong maple flavor use Grade B exclusively. The US classification of maple syrup depends on its translucence. US Grade A Light Amber has to be more than 75 percent translucent, US Grade A Medium Amber has to be 60.5 to 74.9 percent translucent, US Grade A Dark Amber has to be 44.0 to 60.4 percent translucent, and US Grade B is any product less than 44.0 percent translucent.
The Canadian ranking system is overseen by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Syrup is designated with one of three grades, each with several color classes. The grades are Canada No. 1, including Extra Light, Light, and Medium; No. 2 Amber; and No. 3 Dark or any other ungraded category. Producers in Ontario and Québec have the choice of following either provincial or federal grading guidelines. The grading systems in Québec and Ontario are slightly different from the federal. In Québec there are two categories (Number 1, with four color classes, and Number 2, with five color classes). Ontario’s producers have two “number” grades: 1, with three color classes; and 2, which is typically referred to as “Ontario Amber” when produced and sold in the province. A typical yield for a maple syrup producer will be between 25 and 30 percent of each of the #1 colors, 10 percent #2 Amber, and 2 percent #3 Dark.