Vermont Maple Syrup
Vermont maple syrup is sold as maple syrup in plastic jugs, lithographed tins and glass bottles. Vermont maple syrup is also sold as maple candy and specialty foods such as maple cream, maple bricks, maple lollipops, maple drops, and maple sugar.
According to USDA, Vermont, in 2021, produced 1,540,000 gallons of pure maple syrup making it the largest producer (45%) in the US. The next closest state is New York with 647,000 gallons (19% of the US crop). Total US maple syrup production in 2021 was 3,424,000 gallons, down 17% from 2020 and down 18% from 2019. Preliminary US maple syrup production numbers show that 2022 was a banner year with Vermont maple syrup the highest ever at 2,550,000 gallons. USDA numbers will be published soon.
Vermont maple syrup is a great sweetener and can be used instead of sugar as a topping or a cooking ingredient. D&D Sugarwoods Farm maple sugar bricks, aks maple blocks, are an especially good way to buy and store for use in baked beans, shaved as a topping on ice cream, toast, cereal, biscuits...
Vermont maple syrup is produced by one of the most natural and eco-friendly processes imaginable. For every gallon of maple syrup, on average, forty gallons of maple sap is collected from primarily maple sugar trees (Acer saccharum) and boiled to remove the water and concentrate the sugars. Once the sugars caramelize, the characteristic rich flavor and color is produced. That's it! No additives such as corn or high fructose syrup, coloring, preservatives or chemicals are used.
The "sugaring" season for some producers begins in January and may run through April. Technology and weather patterns are significant variables in maple syrup production. Changing weather patterns present a significant variable, as our plante warms, that is being closely monitored by maple syrup producer organizations.
- Vacuum systems have replaced the "buckets on trees" collection process especially for medium to large producers. Some smaller sugarers still use the "buckets on trees" collection system
- As a sugarer gets larger, they likely will replace wood, as an energy source to boil sap, in favor of a fuel oil or propane evaporator.
- Reverse osmosis (micro filtering under pressure) technology concentrates the sugar content of raw sap by removing water (the reason for boiling) therefore reducing the boiling time and energy (wood, fuel oil, propane).
- Sap "runs" only when nightime temperatures are below freezing and daytime temperatures are above freezing. The more days like this during the sugaring season, the more sap will be collected.
- Regulations require that retail Vermont maple syrup be produced in a process assuring that any surface that sap and syrup come in contact with be made of stainless steel or food grade materials.
- Why is the process of producing maple syrup called sugaring? Sugaring is the boiling of maple sap to concentrate the sugars to different levels to make maple syrup, maple candy, maple cream, maple bricks...
There are four grades of Vermont maple syrup:
- Grade A Golden Color/Delicate Taste
- Grade A Amber Color/Rich Taste
- Grade A Dark Color/Robust Taste
- Grade A Very Dark Color/Strong Taste
As the sap boiling season progresses, the color and taste of maple syrup goes from Grade A Golden Color/Delicate Taste in the early part of the season to Grade A Very Dark Color/Strong Taste in the latter part of the season. The most popular grade is Grade A Amber Color/Rich Taste.