Summer is here and for maple sugar makers that means contest time. Entering syrup in a contest is a great way to show off your product, make sure your syrup meets standards and earn a class winner or best is show ribbon. There are a few things to keep in mind before entering a contest. Perhaps the most important is to grade your syrup right before entering. Don't rely on how you graded the syrup during the season since syrup color will naturally darken over time. Making sure your entry meets the standard for color, clarity, density, and flavor before entering is the best way to avoid having syrup rejected. Also important is to use a clean, new container for your entry. Many samples are rejected each year due to otherwise good syrup being entered in reused canning jars that retain the flavor from last year's pickles or salsa. When checking syrup density, make sure to account for syrup temperature. Look at the sample and see if anything cloudy is present. Syrup must be graded for color and will be rejected even if it is just slightly too dark for the grade. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, make sure to taste the sample and determine that the flavor is what you remember it from the production season.