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ABOUT BREEZIE MAPES FARM AND THE PROCESS OF MAKING MAPLE SYRUP: An interview with Rick Newman, Owner.

What is maple flavor?
Around 300 different natural flavor compounds have been found in pure maple syrup, though not all in the same syrup. Your nose detects most of these compounds. As is the case for most natural products, maple syrups have complex flavor chemistry to delight your sense of taste and smell.

Does syrup quality vary from one region, state, or province to another?
Syrup flavor is affected by soil type, tree genetics, weather conditions during the maple season, time during the season when the sap is collected, and processing technique. Pure maple is a natural product with considerable variation in flavors.
 
What is the difference in syrup grade?
Here's an explanation about the grading standards and sugar content of maple syrup, from Cornell University. This is also part of the organic certification process:
 
Grades
Since taste is such a subjective thing maple syrup is graded strictly by color. The grade kit I use is a LoviBond Maple Grading kit. It is the only grading kit that is USDA approved. There are other grading kits available which are much cheaper. However these kits are temporary and over time the colors will change. They are meant to be used for one season and then discarded. I've seen in some sugar houses kits that are 20 years old and still being used. That's why our syrup as far as grade (color) will be always the same.
 
If someone doesn't use a grade kit at all and bottles their syrup, they can grade the syrup either dark or extra dark or in Vermont grade B. As long as you grade the syrup darker than it really is it is legal. What that means is a lot of producers and most bottlers will have their labels printed Dark. However sometimes it might be Medium, Light, or Dark grade that is in the bottle or jug. So what happens is the consumer could be confused thinking the syrup they have been buying is always different.
 
There is one more thing to add about the grading and this really applies to the large bottlers. This also explains such a variation in taste. Simple put-- they will take and mix the different grades of syrup to obtain whatever grade (color) they are bottling at that time. So every time they bottle there will be a great variation in taste. The color might be the same but the taste will always be different. ALWAYS! As part of my organic certification I NEVER blend to make a grade.

Thickness or Viscosity
The standard from Cornell is that maple syrup needs to be between 66 and 67% brix. What that means is basically the sugar content. If the syrup is below 66% it will, over time, ferment, or allow a mold to grow in the syrup. If it is over 67% it will crystallize in the container, like rock candy.
 
I use three pieces of equipment to check our sugar content: One is a electric digital refractometer. This measures exactly the sugar content within .01 variation. This piece of equipment is from the medical industry and very expensive, however it is the absolute most exact! The second thing we use is a hand held sight refractometer. This separates the sugar from the liquid and then you view the scale which gives you the sugar content. The last thing we use is a hydrometer. Which floats in the syrup, according to the density. This is what most producers use. However, most producers are not aware that you need to adjust for the temperature when using this piece of equipment. I've seen it time and again in visiting other producers. When I mention this they are totally unaware.
 
One other thing that leads to confusion as far as thickness is concerned, concerns boiling point (and this apply's to most smaller producers). When you are evaporating the sap to make syrup you can also check the thickness by checking the temperature of the boiling liquid.

The standard thought is 66% syrup will boil at 7 degrees above boiling water (212 degrees F). So the thought is when the syrup gets to 219 degrees, it's done. Here's the trap in this– at every elevation the barometric pressure and the boiling point of water is always different. My sugar house is at exactly 1986 feet above sea level, so water boils at 209.4 degrees not 212. So if you add 7 to the 209.4 it means the syrup is done at 216.4 not 219. The average producer, not being aware of this would be making a lot thicker syrup than the Cornell University standard. However as the barometric pressure changes it will mean the syrup will always vary! Again that leads to confusion on the part of the consumer.

Collection of the sap. Tapping the tree.
Collection tubing. Draining the sap.
Sugar maples leaves in early autumn. Sugar mapes after snowfall. New York Grade A Light Amber or Vermont Fancy — the lightest of the three classifications has a mild, delicate flavor
Located in Otsego County, near historic Cooperstown, Breezie Maples Farm has been in existence since 1986. Althogh we have been making maple syrup since 1987, starting with seven taps on two trees, our operation has grown to over 15,000 taps on 175 acres of "sugarbush" maple trees.
Up until 2008 our syrup was sold primarily in bulk to major bottlers in both the United States and Canada. We decided to sell locally at farmers markets and a few select gourmet retail stores and farm stands.
We are fortunate to have been selected by Cornell University to parcipate in several research projets for both quality and quantity of the finished syrup product. We have also been approved for our second year as USDA Certified Organic and are currently the largest certified organic producer in New York State.
Medium Amber — a bit darker with a fuller flavor
Dark Amber — the darkest of the three grades has a stronger maple, caramel, and other flavors
Extra Dark (Grade B) — has the strongest flavors

Source: Cornell University >


© Breezie Maples Farm, Westford, NY • Office: 36 DeGraaf Ct., Mahwah, NJ 07430 • Tel. Toll-Free: 877-627-5330 (office)

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