Utne Blogs > Wild Green

Wild Green

Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.


The Wide World of Maple Syrup Flavors

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: local food, artisanal food, maple syrup, Local Banquet, environment, Keith Goetzman,

Maple syrup tasting

It’s maple syruping time, and the sap is running. Would you like your syrup with hints of vanilla and some subtle floral notes, or perhaps a heartier “put-hair-on-your-chest” maple flavor? Either way, be sure to avoid any syrups that call to mind “soiled mop” or “plastic wrapping.”

These are some of the terms being thrown around by maple syrup makers who are beginning to identify and market the subtle flavor differences in their products, reports Vermont’s Local Banquet:

Maple enthusiasts are moving beyond the basics to explore nuances in taste that can help bring even more appreciation to our state’s famous export. … Just as all producers taste carefully for any deviation from maple standards, some are now beginning to taste for nuances that we do want. While it’s bad to have a hint of “cardboard,” what about a hint of “caramel”? [A flavoring wheel created by Quebec researchers] also includes a range of positive variations that sugar maples create naturally: shades of vanilla, toffee, chicory, hazelnut, and baked apple. Maple producers and food enthusiasts are finding that distinct sugar bushes often yield distinct syrups—and you don’t have to be a syrup sommelier to detect the differences.

One Vermont producer gets a reddish, vanilla-laced syrup from a particular stand of trees and sells it as a premium product. Another “imagines how the Vermont Maple Open House Weekend can become like the tours of Scotch distilleries in Scotland, during which visitors learn the distinctions between each brand.”

Sounds wonderful. Just don’t expect Aunt Jemima to attend.

Source: Vermont’s Local Banquet 

Image by Edsel L, licensed under Creative Commons.