Grades of Maple Syrup: What to Buy

Different grades of maple syrup in bottles
Image from Turkey Street Maples

Anyone who has been to a diner with me knows that I’m very vocal about maple syrup. While I will use whatever pancake syrup is there, which is usually an abomination of high fructose corn syrup, I will also loudly proclaim the benefits of using real maple syrup. There may (read: will) also be extensive discussions of the grades of maple syrup and which should be used.

Well, now the whole maple syrup community has shifted the grading system! Tremendous thanks to the nice people at Ackermann Maple Farm for alerting me to this change. (P.S. their rum- and whisky-barrel aged syrups are incredible!)

Previous Grades of Maple Syrup

In the United States, the grades of maple syrup available on grocery shelves was from Grade A Light Amber (looks like a light gold) to Grade B (dark brown). However, this grading system does not mean that Grade A is a better quality than Grade B. Just the opposite, in fact, in this New England girl’s humble opinion.

Sap collected earlier in the season creates light-colored syrup. Sap collected later in the season generates darker-colored syrups. The flavor profile changes quite a bit during this time giving the Grade B stuff a stronger maple taste. If you’re super-curious about the differences, read this post from Deep Mountain Maple.

New Grades of Maple Syrup

The new grading system gives a Grade A variant to all grades and shades of maple syrup that are available to consumers. Notice that the names are now descriptive of the flavors. Grade A Light Amber is now “Delicate Taste” while Grade B is now lumped in with the darker Grade A Dark Ambers and called “Robust Taste.” It’s not a perfect, 1:1 translation but at least the good stuff is still there on the shelf to be found.

Maple syrup grade chart old and new
The old and new maple syrup grading systems compared.

The grading system apparently now uses percentages of light passing through the syrup as the gauge for the name. As a maple syrup nerd, I found this super-important. Shady Grove Maple from Canada has a good graphic and post describing this for others interested.

Maple Syrup and Health

Why file an article about maple syrup under Health? Because I use real sugars and have done so throughout my weight loss efforts.

Artificial sweeteners are like poison for me. They cause tremendous inflammation in my gut that prevents weight loss and makes me physically sick.

Maple syrup is delicious, does not try to kill me, and falls squarely in line with my Give Nothing Up philosophy.

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