Our Maple Syrup = Strong
by Tig Tillinghast
We packed some of our Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup into our square bottles a few nights ago. We pack it strong. They were left overnight on the cold concrete floor, as temperatures dipped pretty low. The maple syrup at that temperature can keep only so much sugar in solution, so some of it started to crystallize on the bottom. It’s a beautiful thing, a dusting of shiny crystals on the bottom of a maple syrup bottle. You know it’ll be thick and strong.
One element I’ve been thinking about: if we’re boiling down extra strong, the sugar content of that syrup is obviously higher than normal. A New Hampshire syrup might be below 68 percent sugar. A Vermont syrup should be just above 68 percent. We’ll pack it at about 70 or so. But when the sugar comes out of solution like this, folks say it’s just back to normal syrup. Except, I think it’s not. You see, those sugar crystals don’t taste like maple syrup. They’re just pure sugar. Which means that all the extra maple flavor associated with that volume of syrup remains in the bottle. Here is a picture of the same bottle in the evening…
[This is, quite literally, stored energy]
I need to test this more carefully, but I believe that a bottle of overstrength maple syrup that has been brought back to normal strength through sugar crystals forming will have a higher rate of maple syrup flavor than a bottle that was just brought to normal density in the first place. We could probably best test this with some Grade A Fancy, where the normal strength maple syrup lacks the strong flavor of the darker grades of maple syrup. Sounds like a great excuse to do another tasting.