When it comes to maple syrup grades there is much confusion especially since the universal grades were put into action in 2015. I thought it was time to review the new grades one more time to make sure that everyone understands the new grading system across Canada and the United States.
Is one grade more pure than another? Mirror, mirror, on the wall...? It all comes down to personal preference really. My favourite is Golden Delicate. It is so pure, delicate and buttery. It's also the first gift from Mother Nature each season!
Pure Vermont Maple Syrup must meet strict quality standards and is graded on four characteristics: color, clarity, density, and flavor.
Usually made at the beginning of the new maple season, this syrup was known once graded as Fancy. Subtle maple flavor is best appreciated when used on pancakes or waffles or 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.
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.
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.
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.
If you've picked up a bottle of maple syrup lately, you may have had a similar experience. It's not your eyes fooling you: the grading system of maple syrup has changed. The new regulations began in Vermont last winter, and a few weeks ago the USDA revised its standards to match. Grades B and C are out; four (very wordy) levels of Grade A are in.