Agriculture Canada has developed a “flavor wheel” that details 91 unique flavors that can be present in maple syrup.
Pure Maine maple syrup is made by boiling the sap of hard rock maple trees. It provides three times the sweetening power of cane sugar, and contains only 40 calories per tablespoon! All Maine maple syrup commercially sold is U.S. Grade A quality, as defined by Maine law. The syrup is further classified by flavor and color characteristics as shown in the classifications below. The words “Maine Maple Syrup” may be used only for pure maple syrup that is produced in Maine.
Grade A: Golden Color with Delicate Flavor
Grade A: Golden Color with Delicate Flavor Pure Maple Syrup is generally early season syrup. As tradition goes, this is the ﬁrst few runs of syrup at the beginning of the season, however with modern technology, we can produce this grade of syrup throughout most of the season. It has a ﬁne pronounced sweetness with a delicate maple ﬂavor. This syrup is desirable for pancakes, wafﬂes, French toast, and as an ice cream topping if a delicate maple flavor is desired.
Grade A: Amber Color with Rich Flavor
Grade A: Amber Color with Rich Flavor Pure Maple Syrup has a slightly stronger ﬂavor with a noticeable darker color. This syrup is by far the most popular choice for all purpose syrup. This grade has a rich full bodied taste that makes it the perfect compliment to most foods. It is the gift of choice by many.
Grade A: Dark Color with Robust Flavor
Grade A: Dark Color with Robust Flavor Pure Maple Syrup is much darker in color and has a stronger more robust maple ﬂavor. It is less desirable as a table syrup but often preferred in baking and cooking because of its strong ﬂavor. This syrup is great to pour over baked apples or squash or use as a glaze on meats and vegetables.
Grade A: Very Dark Color with Strong Flavor
Grade A: Very Dark Color with Strong Flavor Pure Maple Syrup is generally very late season syrup. It is great is foods and recipes where a strong maple presence is desire. Wonderful in cookies, breads, and baked beans. Due to the nature of this syrup, it is often only packaged in larger plastic containers.
Grade Changes Adoption
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on January 28, 2015, that grading standards for maple syrup have been revised to match international standards giving consumers a better understanding of what they are buying. In 2010, the International Maple Syrup Institute, which represents maple producers in the U.S. and Canada, started the implementation procedures for these new grade standards in hopes of making it easier for consumers to understand what grade of syrup they are buying as grades used to vary amongst regions. The revisions completely do away with the Grade B syrup label as the USDA notes there is more demand for dark syrup for cooking and table use. All syrup producing regions will now follow the same grading standards with Grade A to include four color and flavor classes for maple syrup: golden color and delicate taste, amber color and rich taste, dark color and robust taste, and very dark and strong taste.