Guide to Maple Syrup Grades
The color and taste of bulk maple syrup is influenced by nature and the time sap is harvested during the sugaring season. Maple syrup made early in the season tends to be clear and has a delicate taste, while maple syrup made towards the end of the sugaring season is darker and stronger in taste.
In order to differentiate between colors and tastes, a universal grading system is used. No one grade is better than another. What works best for your needs is the one that’s best for you!
Maple Syrup Grades
Grade A Golden Color
Delicate Taste Maple Syrup
Made earlier in the season, this is the most delicate of all the maple syrup grades with a light, golden color and a smooth maple flavor. It’s ideal as a topping for pancakes, waffles, ice cream, and more.
Grade A Amber Color
Rich Taste Maple Syrup
This distinctive taste is produced mid-season when temperatures start to warm. Slightly darker than Golden Delicate, its unique and subtle flavor is most often used as a topping.
Grade A Dark Color
Robust Taste Maple Syrup
As days become warmer and longer, this full-bodied maple syrup grade is produced. Both the color and flavor are a bit stronger and more intense than Amber, Rich. Its strong maple flavor lends itself to meat glazes, cookies, brewing, smoothies, etc.
Grade A Very Dark Color
Strong Taste Maple Syrup
Produced at the end of the season, this maple syrup has the strongest maple flavor. It is typically used by manufacturers as an ingredient in baked goods, sauces, flavoring for meats, beverages, beer, salad dressings, granola and nut butters.
A Word About Grade A
To be labeled Grade A, maple syrup must meet the following requirements:
- Maple flavor characteristic of its color class
- No objectionable odor or taste
- Even color
- No cloudiness or haziness
There is also what’s known as processing grade maple syrup. Produced late in the sugaring season, the processing grade of maple syrup is sometimes suitable as an ingredient in food products, but it has off flavors. It is not permitted for retail sale. It doesn’t meet Grade A requirements, but it does meet all other maple regulations and food quality/safety guidelines.