Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Maple Syrup Taste Test

Quebec produces 70% of the world’s maple syrup. At home, I would be hard pressed to find any Quebec maple syrup, it’s all New Brunswick maple syrup, of course. According to a colleague, Vermont maple syrup is best or so she had heard. And I was sceptical- how different could it be?

So we conducted a taste test. While in Vermont, I purchased a bottle of Grade A medium amber produced by Lucien O. Laroche from Franklin, Vt. I also bought a jar of Hudak’s Grade A Dark Amber and Grade B. At home, I already had a bottle of Canada No. 1 Medium maple syrup made by L. Briggs and Family from Stilesville, NB and a can of Medium from Elgin, NB.

In order to be more fair, I really should have had some from Quebec, Maine, Ontario and other and types, including other producers in New Brunswick. But five containers of maple syrup will take us a while to get through, as it is.

The Hudaks maple syrups definitely had more character- sweeter, more raw, darker. They were prettier, but they were immediately cut from my list. And there was an obvious difference between the Grade A and Grade B- the B was sweeter. My brother Josh preferred the Hudak’s Grade A Dark Amber to all the others- he really liked the flavour.

The other three were similar- the nature of being a ‘medium’ I guess. In the end, I preferred the Briggs family maple syrup from Stilesville. I think the flavour was a little lighter, mellower, fruitier- but I’m suspicious of my own ability to differentiate. I know I prefer medium maple syrup, whether it’s from New Brunswick or Vermont. And I’ll pay a little more attention next time I’m buying maple syrup.


Zeb said...

We bought Quebec maple syrup. I think most of the 100% maple syrup in NY is from there. I also saw some NY brands.

Mom said...

Next time in Vt, get some of (Rob & Patty) Howrigans syrup (your cousins!). It was their farm that Martha Stewart visited a couple of times. They still use the horse and sledge in the woods.
Your grade A light is a very light amber color and taste. It's considered to be the top grade. I grew up enjoying the grade B medium or dark amber and still to this day it's my preference.
I did a taste test with Norman. I had syrup from Vermont, Quebec & Ontario. He had insisted there would be no difference. He was shocked to find he had chosen the Vermont syrup!
The trees will be different in different areas adn therefore the sdap differs. Of course there are several varieties of maple trees to consider also.
All in all - maple syrup, no matter where it's from, is simply amazing!

Anonymous said...

I live in Vermont, 10 miles from St. Albans, home of the annual Vermont Maple Festival. I learned a lot there when I visited for the first time. Canada, the U.S. and Vermont have three different grading systems for maple syrup. Vermont syrups are denser, thicker. Medium and dark syrups are used for cooking. Light ("fancy" in Vermont)should be used on pancakes, just as extra virgin olive oil is used for cooking but light olive oil is used for vinaigrettes and dipping sauces. I buy my maple syrup at the duty free shop in Canada - I'm only 10 minutes away. I don't remember the name, but it's a gold medal winner and it is superb.