Why Is My Maple Syrup So Dark?

Early in the season, light-weight maple syrup is produced.

That’s all there is to it. It is unrelated to how long it has been cooked or the kind of tree it came from. The days are more warmer at the end of the season, which causes the darkness. On these warm days, the bacteria in the tree multiply, converting the sap’s sucrose to fructose and then to glucose, which results in a darker syrup. If you’re interested in reading the complete tale, you can find it in this article. It’s sciencey, complex stuff.

The main point is that early sap produces light syrup while later sap produces black syrup.

What about A and B grades? Don’t be concerned about maple syrup grade B. It is no longer a thing. Certainly not for purchase. When the new maple syrup grades were introduced in 2014, Grade B—a former term for darker, later-season syrup—was thrown out the (sugar house) window.

Need bottles of maple syrup in the shape of maple leaves? You are not to blame. But a case of 12 costs $60 on Amazon, so they’re not exactly inexpensive.

What causes maple syrup to be dark?

The thin (like water), mildly sweet sap of the sugar maple tree is boiled in big, shallow pans over a very hot fire to create maple syrup. The sap is either concentrated by boiling it until the majority of the sap’s water has evaporated, “syrup-like reduction One gallon of syrup can be made from as much as 40–45 gallons of sap!

Making maple syrup is not, in theory, a difficult process. In actuality, making syrup requires a lot of physical labour, takes a long time, and is messy.

The production season spans the transition from winter to spring, which in Vermont is typically a very soggy and muddy time of year. It’s common knowledge around here that Vermont has five distinct seasons, the fifth of which is “Mud Period. At the end of winter, when tonnes of snow and ice are melting, muddy conditions can be found almost everywhere. We create maple syrup at this time of year, of course!

We have to use snowshoes to get through the 4 to 5 feet of heavy snow that is covering the woods when we start setting up for sugaring sometime in February. By the time the sugaring season is over, tiny wildflowers will have emerged from the forest floor, fiddlehead ferns will have poked their dark green knuckles out from under last fall’s decaying leaves, and the tiny frogs known as spring peepers will have begun shrieking their greetings to potential mates at a volume that is way out of proportion to their size. The snow has melted, the ground has thawed, and millions of gallons of water have been released into Vermont’s streams and rivers in between, if it has been a good year for maple syrup. While this is happening, millions of additional gallons of water have been absorbed by the thirsty maple trees as they come out of winter dormancy. The sap of the tree, which nourishes the tree and its developing leaves, is primarily made up of this water.

Every one of our thousands of maple trees is tapped to obtain sap. In other words, as winter comes to an end, we go to each tree and make a tiny hole in the trunk. We put a little spout into that gap and tighten it with a screw “Hammering it in with the mallet. Because of this activity, each hole and the spout that goes with it are referred to as taps. Each tap in our sugarbush (a forest made up mostly of sugar maple trees) is linked to a network of pipelines that transport all of the sap to the sugarhouse (the building where we boil the sap down to syrup). Large tanks are used to hold it there until it can be boiled.

Native Americans in northeastern North America were the first to learn a method for turning the mildly sweet sap of the sugar maple tree into a tasty, nourishing, and practical diet. When European explorers first came into contact with Native Americans in the Northeast and northern Midwest, they had terminology for the process of making maple sugar and maple sugar played a significant role in their mythologies and histories. Early European settlers in the Northeast picked up the technique and soon had their own maple sugar production going.

The colonists actually sought out the drier, solid maple sugar, which they utilised as a replacement for the cane sugar that had to be brought in from the West Indies. The syrup is heated to a degree where the sucrose is sufficiently concentrated while boiling to form crystals when the syrup cools. Due of this, maple sugar is often spoken in terms pertaining to the production of maple syrup. The place where maple syrup is produced is a sugarhouse; the action itself is known as sugaring; and the person who performs these tasks is a sugarmaker.

In our 26 years at the Greenmarket, there is one question that I’m certain we have been asked more often than any other. What distinguishes lighter-colored maple syrup from darker-colored maple syrup? Although the density and maple sugar content of all grades of pure maple syrup (66.9%) are the same, the syrup’s colour can and does fluctuate from light golden to dark brown. In reality, maple syrup is only evaluated for its colour. The main reason for this hue variance is the time of syrup production. The sap pouring from the trees darkens in hue as spring warms, creating a darker syrup. The syrup’s flavour is more potent the darker it is in hue. Four categories of maple syrup are distinguished by the state of Vermont. Fancy, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber, and Grade B are listed in order from light to dark. It’s critical to realise that EVERY batch of maple syrup is made using the same exact method.

The first syrup we typically produce in a season is typically quite clear and light in colour, like ginger ale. The grade for this syrup is Vermont Fancy. Its flavour is delicate but rich, with traces of vanilla from the vanillins found in maple sap naturally. With pancakes, waffles, and French toast, our Fancy grade table syrup is a superb, elegant choice. It tastes great over fresh fruit or ice cream as well.

Darker than Fancy Amber is Grade A Medium Amber. Even if the maple flavour is slightly more strong, the syrup is still light and aromatic. This and Grade A Dark Amber are the conventional types of “maple syrup for pancakes.

Class A As the weather heats up towards the end of the season, dark amber is formed. It tastes fantastic in yoghurt and oatmeal and has a strong maple flavour. It is a fantastic option for baking as well. If you’re seeking something extremely meaty, “You definitely want Dark Amber if you want a typical maple flavour.

At the conclusion of the sugaring season, just before the maple trees blossom, grade B maple syrup is typically produced. The extremely potent, deep flavour of Grade B has been characterised as being nearly as dark as molasses “hardcore. Grade B syrup, which was formerly only used for cooking, has recently become more widely used as table syrup. It is also well known for its advantageous application in the Master Cleanse, a fasting cleanse.

We are relieved that Stanley Burroughs, the author of The Master Cleanse, understood the advantages of pure maple syrup for health, but we are unhappy that he did not fully comprehend how maple syrup is produced. He suggested Grade B syrup because he believed it to be less refined than other maple syrups, most likely due to its dark colour and strong flavour. On the other hand, NO pure maple syrup is refined in any form. Numerous healthy elements, including minerals like potassium, magnesium, and iron, are present in ALL pure maple syrup. In the past, maple syrup was thought to be beneficial for the circulatory and digestive systems. It contains no fat at all and has less calories than most other sweeteners.

People frequently ask us at the Greenmarket what grade is the finest. Whichever one you prefer is the answer!

Is darker maple syrup better for you?

Up until a few years ago, the maple syrup grading systems in the US and Canada were distinct from one another. Although the labelling caused some misunderstanding in both nations, it has since been changed. In the American system, for instance, Grade A and

Up until a few years ago, the maple syrup grading systems in the US and Canada were distinct from one another. Although the labelling caused some misunderstanding in both nations, it has since been changed. For instance, the American system labelled its maple syrup with both Grade A and Grade B, which caused some buyers to believe that Grade B maple syrup was utterly subpar. That isn’t actually true, as you may already be aware.

Since then, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have released new standards that simplify and improve the coherence of labelling by using a common rating system. Now that the labelling is much clearer, it’s simpler for you to locate the exact product you’re looking for. Grade A maple syrup is currently available in four separate categories, plus a processing grade for goods that don’t fit the criteria for the first category. The grade names for the Grade A maple syrups indicate how they are separated based on their colour and flavour. The Grade A maple syrup has a paler hue than the other classes, as its name “Golden Color, Delicate Taste” suggests, and has a milder flavour. Later in the spring, Grade A Amber Color, Rich Taste maple syrup is produced, and it is great drizzled over your prefered pancake batter. The Grade A Very Dark Color, Strong Taste maple syrup is often produced at the end of the season and has a darker hue than the Grade A Dark Color, Robust Taste maple syrup.

According to what we determined in our post “Pure maple syrup is a fantastic sugar substitute because it contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In contrast to refined sugar, which contains numerous additions and chemicals, it solely contains natural sugars. Of course, maple syrup still contains sugar, so you should use caution when drizzling your prefered syrupy delicacy on top of your meal. In terms of health, you should also steer clear of table and pancake syrup because of their extensive processing. Stick with organic and pure maple syrup; it is healthier “The term “genuine maple syrup” is sometimes used. Personally, I think it tastes better and is more sophisticated than lower-quality selections. It is also richer and more complex.

Now, in terms of health, are there differences between the various grades of maple syrup? If so, which grade is the healthiest if that’s the case? Please allow me to respond to these inquiries.

The amount of light passing through the maple sap accounts for the differences in colour and flavour, as you may have read in our article on what causes the variations between the four grades. afterwards in the “The maple syrup will be darker and thicker the longer it is produced. It will also have a stronger flavour. I discovered that there is also a nutritional difference between them after conducting some research on the topic. Minerals and antioxidants are present in all grades of maple syrup by nature, however research has shown that the darker grades have higher concentrations of these nutrients. For instance, Grade A Amber Color maple syrup has at least 300% more antioxidants than Grade A Golden Color, and the two darkest grades have at least 200% more than the lightest. What else? Additionally, the darker syrup has a higher serving size and more calcium and phosphorus overall than the Golden Color, Delicate Taste. In essence, darker grades typically contain 27% more minerals than their lightest cousin. That is not all, though. Additionally, the darker ones have higher phenols, which are typically found in maple syrup. They perform the role of “agents that fight cancer, tumours, and antioxidants.

The lesson to be learned is that healthy syrups tend to be darker since they contain more ingredients that are beneficial for you. Therefore, the four categories of maple syrup do differ in terms of their health. And as we’ve seen, if you want to eat healthier, the deeper colours appear to be the best choice. However, even if it’s natural, you should still use it sparingly. Simply substitute it for existing sugar items in your diet, as opposed to adding it to your cuisine. For instance, you can use pure maple syrup for table syrup and overly processed sugar.

Additionally, the strongest flavour of the deepest grades of maple syrup is something that obviously not everyone enjoys. You can always try the Grade A Amber Color, Rich Taste if you don’t like their stronger taste but still want to take advantage of the health benefits offered by darker grades. Since it is healthier than its lighter version while still tasting wonderful and sweet, it is a great balance between taste and wellbeing. Whether it’s Sunday morning or any other day of the week, it also has more challenging tips for you to appreciate.

Real maple syrup is Grade A (with four classifications):

  • Golden Color and Gentle Taste: This mild and delicate tasting syrup has a light-golden hue and is a favourite on pancakes, waffles, ice cream, and other dishes.
  • Rich Flavor and Amber Tint: This syrup has a rich flavour with an amber colour. This grade tastes fantastic in coffee and tea as well as a topping.
  • Stronger and darker than the lighter grades, this has a bold and substantial flavour that is perfect for foods that are baked, glazed, or grilled. (Previously called Grade B.)
  • Strong flavour and extremely dark colour: Maple syrup is frequently employed as a flavouring and sweetening agent.

See for yourself how much better your favourite foods can taste with maple syrup by trying out a few grades.

Why is some maple syrup bright while other is dark?

You may also be aware that as the sugaring season goes on, the colour of the syrup changes: When the sap first starts to flow, lighter syrup is often produced; later, darker syrup appears.

The quality and sugar amount of darker syrup are the same, but it has a stronger flavour than lighter syrup. (For this reason, Vermont altered the titles of the grades in 2014. A year later, the USDA accepted them). It just comes down to personal preference.

According to him, bacteria and tree physiology both affect the syrup’s colour.

Physiology of trees

A tree transforms the starch stored in its roots and trunks into sugar as it gets ready to generate leaves. The tree then pulls moisture from the earth to assist transport the sugars to its branches. The sap’s chemical changes as the weather warms and its leaf buds expand. In the Champlain Valley, the sap really becomes “smelly and sticky” by late March or early April, according to Marshall.


About 2% of fresh maple sugar sap contains sucrose; the remainder is water. Sap picks up bacteria on the way to the sugarhouse that convert some of the sucrose into the two less complex sugars fructose and glucose. (If the sap is left in the tank for a while, it will also do this.)

Over the course of the sugaring season, new microorganisms frequently appear in the sap, increasing the production of these simple sugars.

It starts to get interesting from here. Nonenzymatic browning events that alter syrup colour and flavour take place as the sap is boiled in the evaporator (killing all those bacteria!). It turns out that glucose and fructose participate in these processes more frequently than the less unstable sucrose.

Therefore, as the season progresses, the syrup will become darker and more flavorful due to an increase in bacteria.

If you want to learn more, check out the excellent article in Northern Woodlands magazine (which is where I learned much of this).

But questions continue. Example: We produced mostly black syrup and some amber syrup the previous year. We’ve been sugaring for nearly a week this year and have produced more than 300 gallons of golden syrup!

Therefore, there is still a great deal of mystery surrounding this seemingly straightforward process of boiling sap to make syrup.