Different Grades Of Maple Syrup

So Many Grades of Maple Syrup… What Are the Differences?
By Erin Otto

We bring in organic maple syrup from a farm in Vermont every spring. Click here to get in in the order or sign up for our emails and we’ll let you know when it’s available.


Medium Amber Grade Maple SyrupMaybe we get a little spoiled during maple season. Any other time of year, we would be content with regular maple syrup, so long as it’s the real thing. But come spring, things change, and we want to pick out just the right kind. If becoming a bit of a maple connoisseur is right up your alley, here is a little guide to get you started.

Before we get into the differences, I’d like to point out a similarity. All of the maple syrup grades have the same density and the same amount of natural sugars. In other words, the lighter maple syrup is just as sweet and equally as thick as the dark syrup.


Grade A Fancy maple syrup is what you might call the first fruits of the maple harvest because it’s harvested at the beginning of the season. Fancy maple syrup has the lightest color and also the lightest, most delicate maple flavor of all the grades.

Since we started making maple-sweetened homemade ice cream, fancy maple syrup is the grade we’ve come to prefer when we want sweet, but not mapl-y ice cream, like vanilla. The kids just eat this stuff up, and I’m happy to give them a generous bowl full, knowing they’re getting a healthy dose of minerals from the maple syrup instead of  empty calories (or worse) from the corn syrup that’s in most brands of ice cream.


Medium Amber (Grade A) is, according to our experience, the most popular of all the grades, probably because it’s so versatile. Darker than the fancy, medium amber syrup is light enough to drizzle over your pancakes and waffles, but strong enough to add a nice maple flavor to your favorite oatmeal cookie recipe. If you’re stuck on which grade to order, this is the one we’d recommend.


The next darkest grade is called Dark Amber (Grade A). As the maple season progresses, the syrup darkens and develops a more robust flavor. Dark amber is the darkest grade we’re offering this season. (There is one even darker and more strongly flavored, the Grade B syrup, but the farm didn’t harvest enough grade B syrup for us this year.) Dark amber is the best choice for cooking and baking because it imparts the most maple flavor to your recipe. Pour dark amber syrup over baked apples or squash, or use it as a glaze for roasted meats and veggies. It’s great on pancakes and oatmeal too, just noticeably more strongly flavored.