Until recently, you’d see an alphabet of choices: Grade A (aka “Fancy”) for light varieties; Grade B for darker, thicker ones (the go-to for foodies and chefs); and Grade C (or “Processing Grade”) for the most robust types, often used in industrial food flavoring. However, the International Maple Syrup Institute found that some consumers mistakenly thought the non-A classifications meant lower-quality contents. So in 2015, it rejiggered its process, handing out A’s all around (go, syrup!) and creating unified descriptors to distinguish taste and consistency. Here are the new markers, demystified.
GRADE A: GOLDEN COLOR, DELICATE TASTE
The thinnest liquid, with a light, sweet flavor, it’s breakfast’s best friend. Drizzle it freely onto pancakes and waffles.
GRADE A: AMBER COLOR, RICH TASTE
This variety is darker in color, with the consistency of clover honey. Add a dash to muffin or scone batter for a subtle maple taste.
GRADE A: DARK COLOR, ROBUST TASTE
Caramel-like with deep maple notes, it works well as a brown-sugar substitute (2/3 cup syrup for every 1 cup sugar).
GRADE A: VERY DARK COLOR, STRONG TASTE
The richest syrup is as viscous as molasses, and the two can be used interchangeably. Try it in baked beans or a ham glaze.