Maple Syrup Grading
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener created when boiling maple tree sap (maple water). Drizzle it over yogurt, use it to marinate your meats, add it to shakes, and whip it into cupcakes — maple syrup adds to all these foods and more.
In the kitchen, a big serving of pure maple syrup awaits you beside some fluffy pancakes hot off the grill. It has a smoky caramel aroma, with woody notes and hints of vanilla and English toffee. Just one sniff will whisk you away to a warm log cabin in the woods overlooking a white snowbank.
As maple syrup enthusiasts, we know everything there is to know about this liquid gold. And today, we'd like to talk about the different grades of this fabulous sweet treat.
What Is Maple Syrup Grading?
Since the inception of the maple industry, maple producers from Canada and the United States have used different rules, grades, and terminology to describe their products. This fragmentation rapidly posed challenges to the industry and gave rise to consumer confusion.
Luckily, a proper maple syrup grading system was implemented in Canada a few years ago and makes it now easier to purchase maple syrup of exceptional quality based on your true personal preference and/or the future purpose of the maple syrup in your recipes.
As you may know, pure maple syrup changes colour and flavour throughout the sugaring season. Lighter maple syrup is harvested earlier in the season when the weather is colder, while darker maple syrup is made late season when the weather is warmer.
As the sugaring season advances, the maple sap is sweeter, resulting in adarker and more caramelized product with a stronger maple flavour. Translucence, colour and taste are all used to grade maple syrup and we’re here to demystify the new grading system with you.
Maple Syrup Grading – What Changed?
Despite the widespread belief that the grades denote varying degrees of processing and refinement, they only refer to differences in the syrup's colour and flavour profile. They don't imply changing quality levels.
In fact, only two grades are found in Canada: Grade A maple syrup and Processing Grade. However, only Grade A maple syrup is sold to the public and certifies that the maple syrup is obtained by no other method than concentrating maple sap (maple water), that there’s no cloudiness in the product, that it’s free of fermentation, uniform in colour, free of sediment, that its maple flavour is characteristic of its colour and that there’s no objectionable odour or taste in it. This shows that once labeled Grade A maple syrup, all Canadian maple syrups meet the same purity and safety requirements, no matter their colour and flavour profile.
Boiling the maple sap from sugar maple trees is all it takes to make maple syrup. In fact, one gallon of maple syrup requires up to 40-45 gallons of maple sap. According to Maple From Canada and multiple research, the sap's nutrients are preserved in the reduced maple syrup. Moreover, minerals and vitamins are found in all varieties of pure Canadian Grade A maple syrup. To know more on the health benefits of maple syrup, we encourage you to read our article on the subject.
The New Grading System – An Introduction
Below we've mentioned all Grade A colour and flavour profiles under their new names and previous ones.
Grade A: Golden and Delicate Taste
Previously Called: Fancy or Extra Light
Golden maple syrup is made when the temperatures are cold, usually in late February, and is the first syrup of the season that gets tapped. That's why it is the lightest in colour and flavour. Due to its delicate taste, we recommend using it over ice cream or yogourt, to enlighten its elegant maple flavour.
Grade A: Amber and Rich Taste
Previously Called: Medium Amber or Grade A: Dark Amber
This perennial favourite has a remarkable amber colour. The flavour can be described as full-bodied with medium intensity. This is usually the most appreciated grade for those seeking a traditional maple syrup flavour. We recommend this maple syrup on anything sweet. From pancakes to sweet desserts, you will find that Grade A amber maple syrup is just the right intensity. It’s ideal for vinaigrettes too.
Grade A: Dark and Robust Taste
Previously Called: Grade A: Dark Amber or Grade B
Especially preferred by those who prefer a more intense maple flavour, Grade A dark and robust maple syrup has a deeper maple syrup flavour and hearty notes. Excellent when used in cooking or baking and when mixed with fruits, this maple syrup will shine through your dishes for its deep caramelized and striking maple flavour.
Grade A: Very Dark and Strong Taste
Previously Called: Grade C
This is the darkest of the grades and the one that has the most potent maple flavour. Very Dark maple syrup is an ally in the kitchen when it comes to sauces and glazes, and it holds up well during cooking because of its strong maple flavour. While you will find that it adds nose and colour to your cooked food, it also has distinctive bitter notes that make it less appealing in its raw form (straight from the bottle). In fact, this grade is usually preferred for industrial use. When used straight from the bottle, it’s not as enjoyable as the other grades — Grade A Very Dark and strong taste needs to be cooked to reach its full potential.
Where To Buy Maple Syrup?
Craving it now, aren't you? At Maple Syrup World, we've got your back! If you want to buy authentic maple syrup online, you can do so on our website.
The true essence of what we're doing is maple syrup. Our maple syrup, sourced from Canadian maple syrup farms only, is vegan, contains no additives, and is Kosher certified. Not to mention how versatile and flavourful it is. Get in touch with us for more details.
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In collaboration with Maple from Canada.