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Maple Syrup Grades
Summary of the grades of maple syrup
Maple syrup is sold in four main grades for retail: Golden Color Delicate Taste, Amber Color Rich Taste, Dark Color Robust Taste, Very Dark Color Strong Taste. As Vermont sugarmakers, we have firm standards that require us to grade our syrup both by the color and the taste. One way of thinking about the grades is to think of them as flavors. A lighter grade to medium grade has a smooth caramel taste almost like milk chocolate, whereas a very dark syrup might taste closer to dark chocolate or molasses. In these top four grades available for retail, no grade is of a higher quality than the others. They all have the same sugar content and density. Choosing what grade of maple syrup to buy is more a question of personal preference and how you plan to use it. In general, most folks prefer an Amber Color Rich Taste. It's what we make the most of and it has a good smooth caramel flavor. That said, tastes have trended towards darker syrups as folks have embraced the stronger maple flavor for an everyday sweetener. Lastly, it should be noted that many producers will make stronger batches of syrup beyond the four mentioned grades. These ‘commercial’ grades are frequently sourced for bulk and wholesale applications.
What happened to Grade B ?
In 2015, the maple industry changed the grading system for pure maple syrup. Many folks are still familiar with the old system which included “Grade B” syrup. Golden Color Delicate Taste was formerly Grade A Fancy. Amber Color Rich Taste was formerly Grade A Medium Amber. Dark Color Robust Taste was formerly Grade A Dark Amber. Very Dark Color Strong Taste used to be called Grade B maple syrup. Technically, the new Very Dark Color Strong Taste is a slightly stronger syrup than the old Grade B. The new grades don’t perfectly line up with the old grades, but they are very close. For all intents and purposes, the new retail grades are all considered Grade A – partially because Grade B sounds inferior. For many in the industry, this was a welcome change brought on by the International Maple Syrup Institute. Previously, each state and province had slightly different rules when grading maple syrup. The new system resulted in a standardization of the grades. Now everyone uses the same criteria and language when grading syrup. If you are in the business of sourcing or supplying bulk maple syrup in barrels, there are now clear standardized rules from Ontario to Minnesota. Once in a while, you may still see some producers advertising syrup as Grade B. If you’re looking for Grade B we suggest you try our Very Dark Strong Taste. It's some powerful syrup!
WHY are there different grades?
The grades help us distinguish between batches of maple syrup made throughout the season. Every batch of syrup we make is carefully recorded, sampled, and graded. Most people think that to make a darker grade of syrup, sugarmakers just boil the sap longer. In fact, the main determinative factor is not boiling time, but rather the season of the sap. Generally speaking, we make a lighter syrup earlier in the season and a darker syrup later in the season. Why? The composition of the sap is always changing. The sugar content varies as well as the sugars within sap. The main sugar in sap is sucrose. Once gathered from the tree, some of the sucrose naturally breaks down into simple sugars: fructose, and glucose. The closer we get to a warm spring, the more Mother Nature breaks down the sugars within sap. Later in the season, there are more invert sugars. This is important because when we boil the sap into syrup there's a Maillard Reaction or a ‘browning of the sugars’. The same chemical reaction happens when caramelizing onions. This is the main reason we taste the “mapleyness” in syrup. If the sugars in the sap have changed that impacts the Maillard reaction. There are other minor factors that can have an impact on the color and flavor of maple syrup throughout the season like ph or amino acids. For the most part as producers, we are not in control of which grade we make. The trees give us a tank of sap from a particularly sunny day in the spring that results in a batch of maple syrup.
What is the best giftable grade?
We almost always recommend the Amber Color Rich Taste for gifts. It's a delicious smooth and caramelly syrup that's great for pancakes and breakfast foods. It's also the grade that most folks associate with when they think of “Maple Syrup.” If you're shopping for a gift for a foodie in your life, our infused maple syrups make a truly unique gift. We offer a number of giftable options from bundles to pack prices. We’re always here to help make recommendations! If you’re looking for maple for your workplace or corporate gifts don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions at all.
Four Grades of Maple Syrup - Description of Each
Early Season. Subtle Maple Flavor. Tasting Notes: Buttery, Nutty, Light. Favorite Pairing: Over Ben and Jerry's Vanilla Ice Cream. 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. (VMSMA)
Everyone's Favorite. Heart of the Season. Medium Maple Flavor. Tasting Notes: Carmel, Honey, Smooth. Our Favorite Pairing: All the Pancakes. 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 Taste. (VMSMA)
Our Favorite. Later Season. Big Maple Flavor. Tasting Notes: Chocolate, Toffee, Toasted Marshmallow. Our Favorite Pairing: A Tall Cup of Vivid Coffee. 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. (VMSMA)
Baker's Favorite. End of Season. Heady Maple Flavor. Tasting Notes: Molasses, Cassis, Dark Chocolate. Our Favorite Pairing: Delicata Squash. 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. (VMSMA)
How do I store maple syrup?
REFRIDGERATE AFTER OPENING
All real maple syrup should be refrigerated after opening otherwise it can develop mold and ferment.
If you see mold on your maple syrup we recommend disposing of it. To avoid the development of mold be sure to store your syrup in the refrigerator or freezer once it is opened.
FREEZING MAPLE SYRUP
Wait, what? I can freeze maple syrup? Many of our customers buy large amounts of syrup, which they don’t plan to consume all at once. For instance, to save a few dollars a family might choose to buy a gallon, but they may only consume a quart every six months. In this situation, a great solution is to separate your syrup into smaller containers and freeze some of them. Maple syrup can be stored in the freezer indefinitely. Freeze and thawing syrup does not harm the product at all. Just be sure to fully thaw and mix in the condensation on the top before using.
How long does Maple Syrup KeeP
Your syrup should last indefinitely if it remains unopened and about 2 years opened in the refrigerator.
Is your syrup....
Yes! We with Vermont Organic Farmers annually to go through the organic inspection process. Isn’t all maple syrup organic? Not quite! Check out this video here to learn all about it.
Yes! Maple Syrup is a great alternative sweetener for a paleo-friendly diet.
Yes! Pure maple is a single-ingredient product: just reduced, caramelized tree sap.
We do not use any animal products in the production of our maple syrup, that said we do not have an official kosher certification.
All of our maple syrup is 100% vegan. No animal products are used for processing our sap into syrup.
Do you offer wholesale Prices?
Wholesale for restaurants
Are you looking to source bulk maple syrup for food service or restaurant? We've got you covered. We work with some of the finest restaurants from NYC to LA. We love to see our maple on your menus. We typically supply our syrup in 4 gallon cases (4 individual gallons) at a time. If you are interested in using our organic maple syrup at your restaurant please reach out directly at email@example.com for wholesale pricing and samples.
Wholesale for resell
Are you a buyer or stockist looking for a brand that stands out on the shelves? We’d love to hear from you. We offer some wholesale of our maple syrup and other maple products depending on quantity and shipping. Please inquire via e-mail for wholesale pricing and order minimums.
Do you sell your syrup in other states?
Where you can find our syrup and other maple products
Most of our syrup sales are direct to consumer through our farmstore and online business. There are very few stores that carry our syrup outside of Vermont. You can find it at Biedermnas in Philadelphia, PA. If you would like our syrup and live outside of Vermont visit our online shop and we will ship direclty to your home.
Do you offer samples?
We offer sampling in our on site farm store however, with the cost of shipping as a small business we do not offer free samples in the mail.
Does Vermont make the best maple syrup?
Yes, Yes it does. Just kidding (or am I?). We think we make the best syrup in the world, but there is probably a selection bias. There’s nothing in the air that makes Vermont maple syrup the best in the world. That said, Vermont has deep historical expertise in making maple syrup, and still today, our little state makes roughly half the maple produced in the United States. The numbers are pretty impressive given Vermont’s small size. We also consistently boast some of the strongest production numbers (gallons per tap) across the maple belt region. Uncoincidently perhaps, the state of Vermont also maintains the highest quality standards over the years through laws and regulations. Yup, you heard right. We have maple syrup laws. In fact, it is written into law that VT maple syrup is technically just a little thicker (denser) than the minimum requirements in other states. Any sugarmaker will tell you that they make the best maple syrup. The truth is that every producer of syrup is unique because everyone's sugarbush is different. The minerals and soil nutrients vary as well as how producers gather and process sap. This all impacts the quality of the final product. Still don’t believe us? Stop by and try what we have to offer. It is the best in the world.
Maple Syrup vs. White/Brown Sugar
Is maple better for you than white/brown sugar?
Yes, it is! And that's according to SCIENCE! Maple syrup is a healthier alternative to sugar. Most white sugar is derived from corn, beet, and cane sugar. White sugar is refined through a heavy chemical and intensive filtration process. Bone char is frequently used as a decolorizing filter. These refined sugars are mostly devoid of minerals and have been linked to diabetes, depression, and heart disease. On the other hand, Maple syrup is packed with antioxidants and naturally occurring minerals. Maple syrup is even better than honey for folks with diabetes or who monitor blood pressure because it is lower on the glycemic index.
Granulated Maple Sugar
Every gallon of liquid maple syrup weighs just over 11 lbs, of that, around 7 lbs is sugar. In fact, historically more maple was turned into solid sugar than liquid syrup. Especially in the 1700s and 1800s, folks would reduce the sap beyond the boiling point of finished syrup til it crystallized. It was common to make a solid block of maple sugar because it was more shelf-stable before the advent of refrigeration. It was not until the rise of canning and pasteurization, that liquid maple syrup become the preferred consumer form. Roughly speaking, finished maple syrup occurs at 219 F or seven degrees above the boiling point of water. In order to make granulated sugar, we boil syrup up to around 262 F, just before it burns. Then the maple is stirred or spun as it cools. The sugars crystalize and the product is sifted and weighed for packing.
How to subsitute White sugar for maple syrup
Substitute Maple 1:1 as you would white or brown sugar. You will not have to adjust the wet and dry ingredients as you might if substituting liquid syrup. You can also substitute granulated maple sugar for cane sugar. It’s technically a hair “sweeter” than conventional white sugar. When I make the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe, which calls for both white and brown sugar, I only use maple. Believe it or not, they are better that way!