End of Season maple syrup needs a little more description after the 2017 maple sugaring season. We have been looking at the samples of the barrels we made, tasting them and trying to get a handle on how we can possibly explain to our customers about this popular grade of maple syrup that you like using for the Master Cleanse, mead, granola and many other recipes.
What is End of Season Maple Syrup?
The official grade is Very Dark Strong Taste. This grade covers a lot of syrup flavor and color. The new maple law allows us to use market descriptors with the official grade. This is a way for sugarhouses to differentiate their products from other sugarhouses and for their customers.
We use two market descriptors for the Very Dark Strong Taste maple syrup grade; Baking and End of Season.
The Very Dark Strong Taste maple grade using the market descriptor, Baking, describes the beginning of this grade. On the lighter end of the grade it is not as strong flavored as the End of Season and is comparable to the old Grade B. The End of Season market descriptor has a very strong, sharp flavor that jumps onto your taste buds. It is comparable to the old Grade C. My taste buds are not appreciative of this grade on pancakes, I like it as a sweetener.
2016 Maple Season vs 2017 Season
If I summed up the 2017 maple season it would be lengthy, light and flavorful. It was an incredibly long season. We had our first boil on February 20th and finished up on April 11th. We boiled 36 different days and the evaporator was up and running for 179 hours. Looking back over the records from the previous 16 years these are by far our highest days and hours of boiling.
The color of the maple syrup was really light this year. Here’s an example comparing 2016 to 2017. We made 193 and 197 barrels of syrup, respectfully. In 2016 the 54th barrel we made was the first barrel representing the half way point of the syrup grades. In 2017 the 154th barrel was the half way point of the syrup grades.
As the 2016 season was winding down, we produced 26 barrels at the end of the season that did not have a good flavor for retailing as End of Season. The 2017 season finished on a nice Dark Robust Taste grade and quickly transitioned into a very strong flavor without the dark color.
Managing a Season’s Crop
Managing our maple crop is more difficult than one would think. There are a lot of decisions that have to be made for each barrel of syrup. What you can part with in bulk? How many barrels you need to sell? Which barrels will make maple products like maple candy and maple cream? The hardest decisions are made about what we hold over from the previous year.
Here’s what we did for the Very Dark Strong Taste grade. We had held over a few barrels of Baking from the 2016 season. These barrels have a good flavor and color for the grade. You can see the first sample on the left. Looks just as it should.
The End of Season grade had no holdover for us from 2016, we worked with what we have for 2017. The flavor is right on point. We compared the flavor to a container from 2016 and sent it out samples to tasting professionals. The samples of this canning is lighter even though the flavor is what you would expect from End of Season. This is the left sample.
Knowing that we have a customer base who has been contacting us for End of Season, we wanted to take a moment and explain how we got to where we were. Please, if you have any questions, do contact us. We want to have a full disclosure and make sure that you will enjoy your End of Season maple syrup purchase.