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Maple Syrup Grades

When shopping for maple syrup at the grocery store, you might be met with shelves upon shelves of bottles. Labels that pop out at you vary, and so does the taste. What does it all mean, and what’s the right maple syrup for you?! To make your trip to the market more informed, we’ll explain pure maple syrup grades so that you know exactly what you’re looking for.

To start, look for real maple syrup! Pints, quarts, and squeeze bottles of pure maple syrup will have the words “pure” or “real” on the bottle. Take a closer look at the ingredient list and you’ll notice that there’s only one ingredient: pure maple syrup. Imposter syrups are stuffed with additives and flavorings. Making sure that what you’re adding to your cart is pure is the first step to upgrading your Saturday morning pancakes.

When it comes to pure maple syrup, everything is classified as Grade A. The specific classifications within pure maple syrup are based on color and flavor and have nothing to do with quality. Here we’ll familiarize you with three Grade A classifications: Golden Delicate, Amber Rich, and Dark Robust. These are the three you’ll most likely come across in the syrup aisle. For food manufacturers, Very Dark Robust and Processing Grade maple syrup are both available to use as ingredients in products.

So, what’s the difference between the three Grade A pure maple syrup classifications you’ll see on retail shelves? Find your flavor below!


Golden Delicate

Those with a sweet tooth delight in the sweet bouquet of Golden, Delicate maple syrup. You’ll sense notes of butter and vanilla, and a softer maple flavor profile. Sweeter, with a muted maple flavor, this classification of Grade A pure maple syrup is favored for pouring over crepes and is our top choice for coating a scoop of ice cream.

Amber Rich

Amber, Rich maple syrup has a true maple flavor and is perhaps the most popular to perch atop dining tables. The maple flavor is more prominent than Golden, Delicate but less robust than the caramel-notes of Dark, Robust. So if it’s balance you crave when cooking with maple, this classification is for you. Amber, Rich allows the maple flavor to come through in your recipes without overpowering the pairings. Try swirling it into your favorite sauce for a sweet and savory coating on noodles.

Dark Robust

If it’s a recipe elevating pure maple syrup that you’re looking for, allow us to introduce you to Dark, Robust. But first, a little history. Before there were changes to pure maple syrup grading in 2014 Dark, Robust maple syrup was formerly known as Grade B. Since the grading system harmoniously grouped all flavors under Grade A, this deeper maple flavor became known as Dark, Robust. The caramel notes present in this classification makes it a coveted pour for those who crave a heartier maple flavor atop their pancakes or in tossed in their roasted vegetables. We use Dark, Robust in baking for a naturally sweetened treat with a more complex flavor.

Have a go to recipe that uses maple syrup? Tag us @butternutmountainfarm on Instagram and Facebook to show us how you’re using pure Vermont maple syrup in the kitchen!