What it takes to produce certified organic maple syrup

Many consumers believe that because maple syrup is genuinely a natural product, labeling it as organic maple syrup is redundant. In truth, there are important differences between natural and organic maple syrup and it all boils down to a set of strict regulations regarding the sugaring process (pun intended).

All Coombs Family Farms organic maple products are certified organic by the Quality Assurance International (QAI) and carry the USDA organic seal. This ensures you that when you choose Coombs Family Farms organic maple syrup, the maple syrup that you pour on your pancakes or use in your favorite recipes is 100% free of any pesticides and chemicals.

However, the criteria for organic maple syrup go deeper than that. Being certified organic means that our maple syrup was harvested with much more in mind than immediate, short-term gain. While pesticides and chemicals may make farming easier, organic maple syrup production is healthier for the forest, healthier for the environment, and healthier for consumers. By choosing to farm organically and not use artificial pesticides, we are doing our part to protect our environment and nurture our forests so that we can continue to produce high-quality organic maple syrup for generations to come.

The guidelines for making and selling natural and organic maple syrup

In order for producers to be able to label their product organic maple syrup, they are required to harvest their crop in a manner that is not harmful to the environment. One of the biggest requirements for producing organic maple syrup is that it cannot be harvested with the use of any pesticides or chemicals, or close to property or farmland using pesticides or chemicals.

The strict guidelines that organic maple syrup producers must follow are as detailed as they are tough, but their purpose is deeply humanitarian, as it helps to protect both the short and long-term health of consumers and the planet on which we live. Organic agriculture is to ensure the long-term health of both wildlife and humans through strengthening the soil from which the crops are cultivated. Rather than viewing soil, plants, animals, humans and the planet separately, the principles of organic farming are based upon treating all of these as one interconnected entity.

Certified organic maple syrup: the QAI inspection process

QAI inspection starts with a walk through our sugarbush; the land that supports our sugar maple trees.  In a painstakingly thorough process, the QAI inspectors review and evaluate our forest management practices, beginning with tree thinning and harvesting. They ensure that we are not over-tapping our trees. The QAI Inspectors also confirm that no chemical fertilizers or pesticides are being applied on or near our farm by any of our neighbors. This means that if the owner of an apple orchard in an abutting property sprayed trees with pesticides or another landowner or municipality applied weed control chemicals along a roadside, we would need protective buffer zones in those areas. These QAI certified buffer zones must be large enough to eliminate contamination from airborne particles or droplets as well as prevent any possible underground contamination of the water table via seepage.

At the same time, QAI inspectors carefully trace the flow of maple sap from the spout to the sugar house, making sure that there are no places where contamination could occur. QAI certification confirms that paraformaldehyde is not used during tree tapping. This practice has never happened on our farm and has been banned for years, but to ensure purity QAI still checks. The evaluation continues at the sugar house and includes every detail of the syrup-making process. From the sap evaporation/boiling process to every single piece of equipment used, all must pass precise cleaning standards. Finally, certification ensures that any defoaming agent used to keep the foam contained in the evaporator (at one drop to 50 gallons) is organic. This defoaming agent is also approved by a rabbi, as all Coombs Family Farms maple syrup products are also certified kosher by Kof-K. At this point, our organic maple syrup is filtered and ready to sell and ship.

Our organic certification by QAI removes any margin for error. When you purchase any Coombs Family Farms certified organic maple syrup product, you can be confident that you are buying the very best organic maple syrup possible.

 All maple syrup is not created equal

While any form of real maple syrup is infinitely healthier for you than other sweeteners on the market that offer nothing in terms of nutritional content, organic maple syrup is the best choice of all. For seven generations, Coombs Family Farms has produced great tasting 100% pure Vermont organic maple syrup harvested sustainably from trees which are nurtured without the use of pesticides. The superior quality and rich, sweet flavor of pure organic maple syrup is utterly unique – and entirely delicious. Try some today!