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Business and Economy

Maine Adopts Syrup Grading Standard in Advance of Maple Sunday

Jennifer Mitchell
Josh Knipping, owner of Back Ridge Sugar House in Winterport, stares into his empty maple vat in March 2014.

The state of Maine is formally adopting the international grading system for maple syrup. The announcement comes in advance of the 33rd annual Maine Maple Sunday, which takes place this coming Sunday, March 27.

John Bott, spokesman for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, says most Maine syrup producers have already implemented the voluntary standards with an eye toward helping consumers better understand the product they are buying.

Bott says there are four grades, the lightest being Grade A Golden.

“It’s a delicate taste, usually produced earlier in the season, almost a very light sort of gold,” he says. “And then the second category would be Grade A Amber, which has a richer maple taste. Then there’s Grade A Dark color, which has a robust taste, and then Grade A Very Dark color. That’s strong taste.”

Bott says the new system combines 4-5 different systems into one.

“Previously there were 5 categories, different categories used in different areas,” he says. So this is an attempt to standardize it so that, you know, it’s easier for consumers when they choose and it’s also easier for businesses so that they’ll know exactly what product to stock, based on what consumer demand is in their area.”

On Maine Maple Sunday, which takes place the fourth Sunday in March, participating sugarhouses are open for visitors. Most offer production demonstrations, free samples and a variety activities, as well as maple products for sale.

Bott says many of the sugarhouses will also be open on Saturday. More information can be found on the Maine Maple Producers Association website.