Handbook for Maple Grading and Judging Training

Knowledge about grading and judging pure maple syrup is critical to supporting an industry that prides itself on exceptional quality and value.  The purpose of this resource is to enable anyone to understand how to enter and judge the quality of maple syrup and maple products.

Step 1:

How to organize a successful and effective grading/judging workshop

In the beginning, think about: the audience and size (20 is an optimal number), length of workshop and purpose, and presentation options. Effective preparation includes thinking about the beginning, the middle, and the end of the workshop. Use formal or informal evaluation feedback to redesign or change parts of the workshop to improve it for the next presentation.

Some beginning logistical items to discuss include:

  • Assess local interest – does anyone want this topic?
  • Find a mutually agreeable time – weekdays, weekends, evenings?
  • Find a convenient meeting place centrally located
  • Advertise and send notices for registration
  • Acquire good and bad syrup and/or product samples
  • Arrange for computer, nametags, external speakers, screen, handouts, grading tools, cups, spoons, refreshments, and lunch
  • Plan a formal or informal evaluation

Some middle logistical items to discuss include:

  • Most people can only tolerate about six hours a day of listening.  Plan for breaks and snacks to allow people to refresh and refocus.
  • Everyone brings knowledge to the workshop.  Giving people time to exchange ideas enriches the workshop for everyone.
  • Break up lectures and hands-on activities.  Remember that people learn much more by collaborating and doing than just by reading and listening.
  • People in a group have a range of learning styles: visual, auditory, verbal, and physical/kinesthetic.  A mixture of audio-visual, lecture, demonstration, and hands-on activities will engage many types of learners.  These activities can occur individually and in groups so that people can learn by doing and from each other.  Avoid being a talking head and “death by Powerpoint”!
  •  Workshops can create common community goals among attendees.

Step 2

At the end of the workshop, give participants a chance to discuss what they have learned and about what they are still wondering.  You can use a formal or informal evaluation.  Give people an opportunity to talk about the pros and cons of the day and what they still would like to discuss or learn.

For more information on conducting workshops, visit Chapter 12. Section 4. Conducting a Workshop (COMMUNITYTOOLBOX website).

Step 3

Maple Grading and Judging Agenda 

9:30-10:00 a.m. — Introductions and Review Agenda

Ask: What do you want out of the day? Make a list on flipchart or pad of paper to review at end of day.

10:00-10:45 a.m. — Why are We Here? International Grading and Judging Guidelines

Why are We Here? International Grading and Judging Guidelines (YouTube)
Brian Bainborough, President, Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association and Chief Judge

Experiences of Judging and Why is Syrup Disqualified? (YouTube)
John Henderson, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Food Inspection Branch (Retired)

10:45-11:15 a.m. — Density, Color, Clarity Overview

Tools and Sources of Error (YouTube)
Todd Leuty, Agroforestry Specialist Guelph, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Optional Mark Isselhardt Videos:

11:15 a.m.-12:00 Noon — Off Flavors and Allergens

How to Taste and Allergens (YouTube)
Kathy Hopkins, Extension Professor, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Skowhegan, Maine

What to Do with Off-Flavors? Prevent, Correct, Blend (YouTube)
Brian Bainborough, President, Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association and Chief Judge

12:00-12:45 p.m. — Lunch

12:45-1:30 p.m. —  Standard Maple Flavors

Maple Syrup Grading Fundamentals: Flavor (University of Vermont Extension) (YouTube)
Mark Isselhardt, University of Vermont Extension Maple Specialist

https://youtu.be/vjNSzclTK_0

Judging and IMSI Scoresheets (YouTube)
Brian Bainborough, President, Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association and Chief Judge

https://youtu.be/1yY_q5P57l8

1:30-2:45 p.m. — Split Into Groups, Judge 4-5 Grades and/or Products

2:45 – 3:00 p.m. — Final Judging Discussion and Evaluation

Were your information needs identified this morning met?

3:00 p.m. — Depart


Mark Isselhardt Quality Videos

Flavor*

Maple Syrup Grading Fundamentals: Flavor (University of Vermont Extension) (YouTube)

https://youtu.be/vjNSzclTK_0


Density

Maple Syrup Grading Fundamentals: Density (University of Vermont Extension) (YouTube)


Color

Maple Syrup Grading Fundamentals: Color (University of Vermont Extension) (YouTube)


Clarity

Maple Syrup Grading Fundamentals: Clarity (University of Vermont Extension) (YouTube)


Off-Flavors (YouTube)
Henry Marckres, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, Chief of Consumer Protection (Retired)


Links

Allergens

Informal Evaluation

Download and Print: 2020 Maple Flavor Judging Training Informal Evaluation (PDF)

2020 Maple Flavor Judging Training Informal Evaluation

Session title: __________________________________________________________________

Name (optional): ______________________________________________________________

Fact: Write one fact that you now know that you didn’t know before Question: Write one question that you still have (if you still have a question) Aha! Write one “Aha” moment – one or more new ideas you now have Action: Write what action(s) you will take as a result of your new discoveries.