Grades of Maple
Golden/Delicate │ Amber/Rich │ Dark/Robust
If you've been confused by the recent changes in Vermont Maple Syrup grades, fear not friends, you are not alone! The new grades are meant to help identify the right flavor profile for the palate or recipe and remove the perception that one grade is superior to another. You can be assured that the sugar content, density and overall quality is unified throughout Grade A syrup, which means that whatever flavor you prefer is the best! As a rule, the darker the maple syrup color, the more robust the flavor. The new system breaks maple into two main categories – Grade A and Processing Grade.
Grade A Golden Color, Delicate Flavor
Delicate maple bouquet may contain buttery or vanilla notes. ‘Light’ or less maple flavor than other classes, often perceived as sweeter than the other grades because it lacks the strong flavor profile.
Usually made at the beginning of the new maple season, though sometimes not at all, this syrup was known once graded as Fancy. The subtle maple flavor is best appreciated when paired with rich dairy items like yogurt or vanilla ice cream. Try it over Greek yogurt or for a simple but elegant dessert, simply pour this grade of Vermont syrup over vanilla ice cream to allow subtle flavor to be appreciated.
Grade A Amber Color, Rich Flavor
Solid base maple flavor, also described as ‘true maple flavor.’ With a stronger maple flavor than Grade A Golden Delicate, but without the slight caramel flavor notes often found in Grade A Dark Robust.
Usually made about mid-season and often seems to be the most popular for all-around use. Full of characteristic maple flavor, this syrup is equally as good over waffles as it is in salad dressings, cocktails, or in a maple-sweetened barbecue sauce. If you're only going to have one grade of Vermont maple syrup in your kitchen, make it Amber Color with Rich Flavor.
Grade A Dark Color, Robust Flavor
A pronounced maple flavor, caramel, and brown sugar flavor notes are also present.
As the maple season progresses, the syrup darkens in color and develops a more robust maple flavor. Good for all-around use, its hearty flavor is a great choice for all kinds of recipes. Pour over baked apples or squash, use as a glaze for meats and vegetables, or sweeten baked goods. This grade pairs well with smoky and spicy flavors like chipotle peppers, sriracha, or bourbon. Its heartier maple flavor makes it popular for table and all around use, as well as cooking.
Grade A Very Dark Color, Strong Flavor
Very prominent maple flavor found in conjunction with flavor notes of burnt sugar, brown sugar, and molasses. This grade was formally only available for commercial use.
Produced at the end of the season, it’s perfect for cooking and baking. When you need a strong maple flavor in a bread or cookie, ice cream, or barbecue sauce, this is the grade of choice.
Available exclusively for commercial use as a food product ingredient and is not available for sale at retail.
Storage Tips: Always refrigerate after opening. To preserve maple’s fresh flavor and prevent crystallization, it can be frozen. Freeze and thaw any number of times, just thaw completely, mixing in any condensation on the top before use.