The Four Grades of Maple Syrup

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Golden, Amber, Dark, and Very Dark...which one is the best?

Well, there is no simple answer. Perhaps the better questions to ask are:

  • What are you using it for? 

  • What intensity of flavor do you prefer for your syrup?

Maple syrup comes in four different grades, all being a variation of Grade A.  Although all are labeled as ‘Grade A’, each of these four grades have a different flavor profile which is noted in their description. 

  • Grade A | Golden Color and Delicate Flavor 

  • Grade A | Amber Color and Rich Flavor

  • Grade A | Dark Color and Robust Flavor

  • Grade A | Very Dark and Strong Flavor

As you can see, the lighter the color, the more delicate the flavor is, and the darker the color, the stronger the flavor is. In order to be considered Pure Maple Syrup it must have the correct amount of sugar “viscosity” and be filtered.

Each of the grades of syrup are typically made during different times of the maple season. The early part of the season starts off with making lighter syrup and as the season goes on, darker grades are produced. Some sugarhouses are able to make all four grades and some may only make a couple. Each year may be different depending on the factors affecting production that season.

A few things to note:

  • For cooking, the darker syrup grades will stand out more in your final products.

  • For confections, Golden and Amber grades typically work best, as they produce a better looking final product based on how the sugar crystals form.

Now, back to the original question, “Which one is best?” Well, everyone has their own preference so it’s up to you to decide. Do you prefer the light delicate flavor of the Golden color grade or the more robust flavors that come with the darker syrup grades?

Visit your local sugarmaker to try their varieties and see what you like best!