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Classifying maple syrup for export

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency keeps watch over the healthfulness and quality of Canadian maple syrup products and is responsible for the federal classification of maple syrup. This classification system includes three categories and five grades of maple syrup.

• Canada no 1 (extra light, light, medium)
• Canada no 2 (amber)
• Canada no 3 (dark) 

Maple syrup flavour changes over the course of the season
The flavour and colour of maple syrup vary throughout the season due to the various changes that its composition undergoes. At the beginning of the season, maple sap has a high content of sacchrose, whereas at the end of the season, its fructose and glucose content increases.

Sacchrose, fructose and glucose are all sugars, but each has its own distinct sweetening strength. Glucose and fructose have a sweeter flavour than sacchrose. As such, maple sap collected at the onset of the season will produce syrup that is not as sweet as that from the close of the season.

As with all sugars, the contents of various natural components found over maple sap (amino acids, minerals) vary with time. These changes in the make-up of maple sap are responsible for the differences in colour and flavour of maple syrup, and occur at different times during the season. At the beginning, syrup is clear and its flavour is only slightly sweet (category AA and A). As the season advances, it becomes darker and caramelized (medium or B category).