Summer is here and for many sugar makers that means maple contest time. Entering syrup in a contest is a great way to show off your product, make sure your syrup meets grading standards and perhaps earn a class winner or best of show ribbon. There are a few things to keep in mind before entering your product in a contest. Perhaps the most important thing is to grade your own syrup right before entering. Don't rely on what 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 retained the flavor from last year's pickles or salsa. When checking density make sure to account for syrup temperature. Look at the sample to see if anything cloudy is present. Syrup must be graded for color and will be rejected even if just slightly too dark for the grade. Lastly, make sure to taste the sample and determine that the flavor is what you remember from the production season.