The USDA syrup grading system uses five different maple syrup grades. These include: Grade A Light Amber, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber and two darker syrups, Grade B maple syrup and Commercial Grade. These maple syrup grades have specific and important upper and lower limits for color and flavor. As the syrups get darker in color, they have a stronger maple flavor.
Grade A Light Amber has a delicate maple flavor. Medium Amber has a nice mild flavor. Grade A Dark Amber has a full-bodied maple flavor while Grade B (including Grade B organic maple syrup) has a hearty, robust flavor. We profile these grades in greater depth, including the most common uses of each flavor, further down this page.
Maple grade consistency is crucial to food manufacturers, chefs and private label marketers. This is why Bascom Family Farms maintains the strictest grading standards in the maple manufacturing industry.
While we grade maple by the basic five USDA grades, we also employ an even tougher blending and grading system. Bascom Family Farms' "seven-tier" grading standard produces 35 maple syrup grades that ensure each manufacturer gets the exact flavor profile they need. Our "seven-tiered" maple grading standard is stringent and steadfast. It segregates the maple syrup by flavor profile for optimal quality assurance and consumer satisfaction. We take this extra step because maple syrup (just like wine) varies slightly from grower to grower and from region to region every year. Our unique proprietary grading process allows us to formulate those subtleties out so manufacturers, private label marketers, the world's top chefs and leaders in the food service industry get a consistent product with the correct flavor profile every time.
There is no such thing as the “best” maple syrup. Maple syrup grades are dependent on the color, strength of flavor, and time of season during which it is produced. Here at Bascom Family Farms, we kick off the maple syrup process in late February or early March when the days get slightly longer and warmer. We never have a set day to tap the trees. Instead, we wait and watch for signs of “sugaring weather.” This is when the mild daytime temperatures thaw and melt the winter snow, and the evenings drop below freezing. Sugaring weather gets the sap flowing, so it’s the ideal time to tap our trees.
This seasonal timing also produces a slight difference in the sugar content in the different grades. Sucrose is the main sugar in maple syrup and is about 60% as sweet as sugar. Maple syrup from Bascom Family Farms consists of 62% sucrose. Sucrose is the only sugar in the Grade A Light Amber maple syrup but the darker varieties of our maple syrup grades contain a small and variable amount of fructose and glucose as well. Sucrose is sweeter than glucose, but not quite as sweet as fructose.
The maple syrup grading system is largely built on the measurement of translucence, which measures how much light is transmitted through the syrup. Lighter grades of maple syrup have the highest levels of light transmission, simply because the density of the syrup is less concentrated than in darker syrup varieties. The chart below outlines this more clearly.
|Maple syrup Grades in the United States and Canada
Designation based on the percent of light transmittance
|% Light Transmission||Canada & Quebec Federal||United States|
|Not less than 75% Tc||No. 1 Extra Light/ or AA||Grade A Light Amber|
|Between 60.5% & 74.9% Tc||No. 1 Light/ Grade A or A||Grade A Med. Amber|
|Between 44% & 60.9% Tc||No. 1 Med./ Grade A or B||Grade A Dark Amber|
|Between 27% & 43.9% Tc||No. 2 Amber/ or C||Grade B|
|Less than 27% Tc||No. 3 Dark/ or D|
As you formulate your products and recipes, you will likely have a specific grade of maple syrup that works best for your needs. Included below are some common uses for the five basic grades.
Grade A Light Amber Maple Syrup: This smooth flavor is one of the most delicate of all the maple syrup grades. Made earlier in the season during colder climates, this smooth maple flavor is ideal for maple cream and maple candies.
Grade A Medium Amber Maple Syrup: This syrup is slightly darker than the Light Amber and is known for its smooth maple flavor. This distinctive taste is produced mid-season when the temperatures start to warm. Its unique and subtle flavor is most often used for table syrup.
Grade A Dark Amber Maple Syrup: As the days become warmer and longer in sugaring season, we produce this full-bodied maple syrup grade. Both the color and the maple flavor are a bit stronger and more intense than the Medium Amber. This grade is popular for table syrups, and is also ideal for general sweetening purposes. Its strong maple flavor also lends itself to meat glazes, cooking recipes, and atop of waffles, pancakes, or oatmeal.
Grade B Maple Syrup: This maple syrup grade is very popular among food manufacturers. Produced last in the sugaring season, this maple syrup is exceptionally robust. Its intense maple flavor is perfect for baking, and many food brands and chefs rely on this specific grade for recipes.
Commercial Grade Maple Syrup: Used primarily as a commercial ingredient, this dark syrup presents a strong maple flavor.
Our maple syrups have a shelf life of up to two years. In order to preserve the optimal flavor of our products, we recommend that you store your maple syrup products in a cool, dry place that is below room temperature. Please avoid any direct and intense light, and refrigerate your maple syrup immediately after opening.