Many of us have become familiar with the various grades of maple syrup, the light and delicate fancy, medium amber, dark amber, and grade B. So why someone up top decided to change the grades, we don’t know. But we do know that all maple producers in the United States are required to adopt the new international maple grades as of 2015, so it seems that the new grades are here to stay. With this in mind, allow us to introduce you to the changes.
Except for the “Golden,” the new maple grades are in fact, new grades. They’re not just new names. Some of the former grades have been combined in the new grades. For example, the new grade “Amber with rich taste” is a combination of the former “medium amber” and the top of “dark amber.” Rather than trying to explain all this, we’ve created a chart to help make it clear.
Which Grade Will Suit You Best?
Maybe we get a little spoiled during maple season. Any other time of year, we would be content with plain old 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 tree, here is a little guide to get you started.
But before we get into the differences, there are two similarities you should know about:
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.
Golden maple syrup is what you might call the first fruits of the maple harvest because it’s harvested at the beginning of the season. Golden maple syrup has the lightest color and also the lightest, most delicate maple flavor of all the grades.
Okay, so “delicate maple flavor” is a nice way of saying this syrup doesn’t have the same depth of flavor that the darker grades do, and for this reason, it’s been our least popular grade. We never liked it much either, until we started using it to sweeten homemade ice cream and marshmallows. You see, Golden Delicate maple syrup has a clean, almost sugar-like taste which works well in recipes where you don’t want to taste maple – or honey, or rapadura; vanilla ice cream, mint ice cream, cheesecake, icing, homemade ketchup and barbecue sauces, caramel, and so many other culinary delights!
“Golden with Delicate Taste” maple syrup is the exact same thing as the grade that used to be called “Fancy.” Only the name has been changed.
Best Uses For Golden Delicate Maple Syrup:
- homemade marshmallows
- as a sweetener in ice cream
- homemade ketchup and barbecue sauces
- as a replacement for corn syrup in many recipes
- homemade caramel, caramel sauce, and caramel popcorn
- blended with cream cheese and walnuts as a bagel spread
- drizzled over yogurt
- pancakes and waffles (obviously)
Amber is, according to our experience, the most popular of all the grades, probably because it’s so versatile. Darker than the Golden, Amber maple 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.
Do you bake homemade granola? Substitute Amber maple syrup in place of the honey or sugar to make it taste really special.
Or use this maple syrup for maple roasted bacon. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and set a rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Lay out strips of bacon in a single layer on the rack. Roast in a 375 degree oven until the bacon begins to brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and drizzle a little maple syrup over the top of each slice. Bake for another 5 minutes or so. You can tell that the bacon is done when you see the foamy oil bubbles all over the slices. Remove the bacon from the oven and grind a little pepper over the top of each slice.
“Amber with Rich Taste” maple syrup is a combination of two of the former grades of maple syrup: all of what used to be Medium Amber and half of Dark Amber.
Best Uses For Amber Maple Syrup:
- a glaze for oven baked ham
- sweetener for hot chocolate
- swirled into oatmeal
- pancakes and waffles
“Dark” maple syrup is the darkest grade that our grower in Vermont produces. It is noticeably darker and more strongly flavored than the other two grades we offer.
As the maple season progresses, the syrup darkens and develops a more robust flavor. This is the grade that our grower harvests at the very end of the season. The Dark grade is a fantastic choice for cooking and baking because it imparts the most maple flavor to your recipe. Pour Dark maple syrup over baked apples or squash, or use it as a glaze for roasted veggies. It’s great on pancakes and oatmeal too if you love that strong maple flavor like we do.
“Dark with Robust Taste” maple syrup is a combination of two of the former grades of maple syrup: half of what used to be called “Dark Amber” and all of what used to be called “Grade B.”
Best Uses For Dark Maple Syrup:
- maple pecan sticky buns
- maple roasted sweet potatoes
- a sweetener in pecan pie
- baked apples or squash
- pancakes, waffles, and French toast
What’s Your Secret?
We’ve shared a few unique ways to use maple syrup beyond the ordinary pancakes and waffles. But I bet you’ve got some really brilliant uses for it too. How do you use maple syrup? Post a comment below to share your genius.