About Syrup Grades
Maple Syrup Grades
There is one question that I am sure we have been asked more than any other in our 29 years at the Greenmarket. What is the difference between lighter-colored and darker-colored maple syrups? Though all grades of pure maple syrup are identical in density and maple sugar content (66.9%), the color of the syrup can range from pale golden to dark brown. In fact, maple syrup is graded solely by its color. This difference in color has mostly to do with when the syrup is made. As the spring warms up, the sap coming from the trees becomes darker in color, producing a darker syrup. Corresponding to color, the darker the syrup is, the stronger its flavor. The State of Vermont distinguishes four maple syrup grades.
It is important to understand that ALL our maple syrup is produced by exactly the same process.
In addition, in 2014, the maple industry is moving toward a new grading system that will help alleviate the confusion between grades A and B, as well as create a universal grading system across all states and Canada. Read more about that here.
From light to dark, syrup is graded:
- Grade A: Golden Color with Delicate Taste
Generally, the first syrup we make in a given season is very clear and light in color, like ginger ale. This syrup is graded Golden with Delicate Taste. It has a subtle but complex flavor, with hints of vanilla. This is an excellent, sophisticated table syrup, delicious with pancakes, waffles and French toast. It is also fantastic on ice cream or fresh fruit. If you prefer this grade, please email us -- it's not necessarily available in the pulldown menu on our storefront, since we have a limited supply.
- Grade A: Amber Color with Rich Taste
A shade darker than Golden, Amber/Rich syrup is still a light, aromatic syrup, but it has a slightly more pronounced maple flavor. This grade, along with Grade A Dark, is considered traditional “pancake maple syrup.”
- Grade A: Dark with Robust Taste
Dark/Robust syrup is produced toward the end of the season as the weather warms up. It has a robust maple flavor and is great in yogurt and oatmeal. It is also a good choice for baking. If you’re looking for that very hearty, “traditional” maple flavor, you probably want this grade. Additionally, this syrup is also "the syrup formerly known as Grade B."
- Grade A: Very Dark with Strong Taste
The maple syrup that is made at the end of the sugaring season, just before the maple trees bud is usually graded Very Dark/Strong. Almost as dark as molasses, the very intense, sometimes tangy/earthy flavor has been described as “hardcore." Until recently, this syrup was called "Grade C," and generally unavailable to the public.
At the Greenmarket, people often ask us which grade is best.
The answer is, whichever one you like best!