Maple Syrup Grades
New standards for maple syrup grades were issued by the USDA in 2015. They are international standards that resulted from a petition from those in the industry that wished to standardize the grading system across states and between the US and Canada. The new grades are expected to make the buying experience better for the consumer. Grade A Maple Syrup has four color and taste classes. Having both the color and taste clearly defined will hopefully be more helpful in determining which product will best suit your needs and preferences.
Grade A Golden Color with a Delicate Taste
This syrup is very light in color and has a smooth and delicate maple flavor. This grade of syrup tends to be made early in the year, and is, as its name implies, a delicacy.
Grade A Amber Color with a Rich Taste
This syrup has beautiful shades of amber and the perfect balance of sweetness with rich maple flavor. **This is sometimes considered the "classic" maple syrup.
Grade A Dark Color with a Robust Taste
This syrup is dark in color with strong maple flavor. This had previously been called Grade B in the state of Vermont and some other places. This grade of syrup tends to have a loyal following by those who love that maple flavor.
Grade A Very Dark Color with a Strong Taste
This syrup is darker in color with a strong maple flavor. Sometimes referred to as cooking or baking maple. This grade of maple syrup is absolutely fine to use in the same way all of the other grades are used (and all other grades are fine to use in cooking & baking)!
Lighter grades of maple syrup are usually made earlier in the season, where as the season progresses the syrup will darken. The grades are defined by the percentage of light that will transmit through a syrup (e.g. when light shines upon Grade A Golden Color with a Delicate Taste 75% or more of the light will transmit through the syrup).
A common misconception people often hold about maple syrup grades are that they contain differing amounts of sugar. Maple syrup is defined as 66-68% sugar by weight, so the amount of sugar in maple syrup is the same across the grades. Sap Hound Maple Company finishes its syrup to a density of 67%. Finishing the syrup at this slightly higher density makes for a lovely pour and smoothness on the tongue.