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Apr 17, 2014 07:44 AM

Société-Orignal Maple Syrup from Quebec

I am always looking for the highest quality ingredients and this article in the Globe today caught my eye:

It's about a coveted Quebec maple syrup from Société-Orignal that I have never heard of. It is extracted extremely carefully with a lower yield rate than typical maple syrup. I usually buy Forbes Wild Food dark amber #3 maple syrup in a 4L jug for about $80-$90 or so at the local farmer's markets (which I split with friends). I like the dark amber because it has a more pronounced and complex maple syrup taste. But, this maple syrup is $35/500ml and available in limited quantities from their website later this month (link in article). That's more than 3X what I usually pay but it sounds very special. It's used in many high-end restaurants.

Has anyone found it at a retailer in Toronto (ie not online from Quebec), tried it and can comment on what they think about it?

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  1. I always thought the darker syrup is from later in the season and is inferior quality. Something about once the buds start to fill out, the sap's taste goes off.

    Makes good beer though. I have a batch of home made maple sap beer fermenting in the basement right now...

    9 Replies
    1. re: PoppiYYZ

      Actually not. The dark amber is higher quality and is actually more expensive as a result.

      1. re: Flexitarian

        That isnt true. The darker ones are usually for baking and industrial use due to stronger flavour. It isnt a higher quality, its just different.

        1. re: kpaxonite

          Ok that's not what Forbes and other maple syrup purveyors have told me. But, anyway, that doesn't really matter if my friends and I like it better.

          1. re: Flexitarian

            Interesting factoid, the little sugar shack I went to over the weekend was charging more for Amber. He said it was because they got a really bad initial flow. Supply and demand in action I guess. ;)

        2. re: Flexitarian

          Actually not...

          In olden timeys: "Maple sugar was touted as the equal of the sugar served in the most elegant Old World salons. The clearest syrups and whitest sugars, which betrayed the least hint of their rustic origins, commanded premium prices."


          But now:

          "The industry has proposed that all syrup sold at retail be relabeled Grade A, and then sorted into four colors: Golden, Amber, Dark, and Very Dark. No longer will the weakest syrup be assigned a higher mark for approaching the perfect purity of utter blandness, or the most intensely flavorful syrup get graded down for daring to taste like maple.

          The new system, the leading trade group explains, will eliminate "the current discrimination against darker syrup." By 2013, the new international standard should be fully adopted, and consumers given the clear choice of syrups with as much, or as little, flavor as they desire. So if you happen to relish the taste of maple syrup, you may want to find a bottle of Grade B while you still can. Once the inferior grade is removed from the label, the rarest, most flavorful syrup will likely command at least as dear a price as its blander and more abundant cousins."

          1. re: pourboi

            Exactly what I thought! Thanks. The dark amber indeed is a premium product.

            1. re: Flexitarian

              No, it is the "organ meat" of syrup... was always cheaper, for the lower class... now it is trendy so they are raising the price...

              1. re: Flexitarian

                My inlaws have done syrup every year for at least the last 40 years - typically they do about 250L of syrup per year.

                What I have found is the Amber is from the end of the season. The light is typically from the very first few taps. The darker the syrup the later the time frame of the tapping.

                As to what is high and low for quality IMHO it depends on where you are from. In Quebec I have seen that traditionally light is the premium, in Ontario people prefer darker. I just like a really good syrup - light or dark - but I have my own supplier. :)

                I have seen years where there isn't much in terms of light and it goes straight to medium. Usually when the weather is warmer.

                1. re: Otonabee

                  A major reason for that is the dark wasnt sold in Quebec for many years (it was all exported) ... I dont think it was even legal to sell it to consumers here for a certain period of time

        3. Haven't tried the SO maple syrup knowingly (perhaps at Joe Beef the other week - that was some good maple syrup!), but their other products are spectacular. The butter, honey and other stuff are best in show. Stasis Foods carries a bunch of their products and does samples.

          1. I read that same article.

            For me the most significant piece of information was that the sap was boiled down to be more concentrated (the article suggested 30% more) – so on a ‘net yield’ basis the more concentrated syrup is more costly (and hence, economics would dictate a higher price). Of course the market is the deciding factor – and the market demand has exceeded supply for some years now, so my ‘marketing radar sense’ is twitching that this is a marketing ploy rather than a quality issue (I’d welcome a blind tasting!).

            My father-in law made his own syrup for over 70 years and always boiled his sap until a drizzle hardened when dropped on snow. He didn’t care about brix – he just did what had worked for generations (and sold out every year to private buyers).

            I don’t claim to be a syrup expert, but have had my share of wines over the years, so claim an ‘educated palate’ (OK- 'experienced'). I found the concentrated maple syrup to be cloying and coated the tongue. So, if served with a meal, the taste of maple lingered for several courses – sometimes destroying the meal for me.

            However, with oatmeal in the morning this is an elixir from the gods (or God, depending on your belief system). With a meal I much prefer the lighter style.

            So let me think. Prices have been stagnant for years and the market rewards lighter colours. What if I reduce supply by 30% by boiling down, and charge a premium for this ‘super-concentrated’ syrup extolling its virtues with a couple of endorsements? Not only do I sop up the existing glut but the smaller supply also leads to higher prices as demand has increased for a ‘premium product’. Sounds good to me!

            But I’d still like to taste it blind against my father-in-law’s.