Making Sense of the Maple Syrup Grading
Vermont has rolled out a completely new labeling standards for its maple syrup that was phased in optionally last year and has fully implemented the new grading for the 2015 season. Yes, all new labeling for this year.
The new standards are meant to signify more clearly to consumers what they should expect to taste in a particular bottle of maple syrup. All four levels of color are Grade A, but with more descriptive names: Golden Color with Delicate Taste, Amber Color With Rich Taste, Dark With Robust Taste and Very Dark with Strong Taste. The new grades do not precisely line up with the old ones but rather overlap, so for example the new Amber Color With Rich Taste includes all of what used to be Medium Amber and the lighter colored segment of what used to be Dark Amber.
Golden Color/Delicate Flavor (Vermont Fancy)
Usually made during the beginning of the maple season. Poured over vanilla ice cream makes for a delicious Vermont maple sundae.
Amber Color/Rich Flavor (Compares well to the former Medium Amber)
Usually made about mid-season and seems to be the most popular for all around use. A good choice for gifts.
Dark Color/Robust Flavor (Compares well to the former Grade B)
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.
Very Dark Color/Strong Flavor (Even darker than Grade B!)
Produced at the end of the season, it’s perfect for cooking! Makes Vermont baked beans, breads, and cookies especially tasty.