The grades of pure maple syrup are based on color and flavor. They do not relate to quality. The grades are meant to help identify the right flavor profile for the palate or recipe. As a rule, the darker the maple syrup color, the more robust the flavor. Maple is broken into two main categories – Grade A and Processing Grade.
Vermont-driven change. New maple syrup grades approved by the Vermont legislature will create a single international standard. These new grades will go into effect in Vermont in January of 2014 and the rest of the US in 2015.
There are four classes within Grade A:
Grade A Golden, Delicate
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.
Golden Delicate Maple Syrup is excellent over ice cream, crepes, and other foods that allow its subtle flavor to be appreciated.
Grade A Amber, Rich
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.
Amber, Rich maple syrup’s all maple flavor makes it popular for table and all around use. Use it on pancakes, waffles and French toast, over yogurt and fruit, or in your coffee or tea.
Grade A Dark, Robust
A pronounced maple flavor, caramel and brown sugar flavor notes are also present. The greatest volume of pure maple syrup sold for any one grade is Dark, Robust, so, it’s often called “the mass market grade.” Sometimes there is a slight burn in the back of the throat as compared to Amber, Rich Maple Syrup. It should not be bitter or overpowering.
Preferred by some for table use, and its strong flavor makes it best for cooking. It is the darkest consumer grade available. Its heartier maple flavor makes it popular for table and all around use, as well as cooking. Try substituting Dark, Robust Maple Syrup for sugar in recipes, or pour over oatmeal, in cold cereal, and as a sweetener in pasta sauces, beans and cooking.
Grade A Very Dark, Strong
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. It is not recommended for sale at retail or for table use.
Grade A Very Dark, Strong is best used as an ingredient and is not recommend for general consumption.
Available exclusively for commercial use as a food product ingredient and is not available for sale at retail.