Maple syrup is a pure, natural sweetener. All grades of maple syrup are identical in density and have a sugar content of 66.9%. Maple syrup is graded primarily on its color, which can range from almost colorless to a dark brown. Generally the first syrup produced during the season has the lightest color and the color deepens as the season progresses. As the temperatures warm in the spring, the sugar content of the sap tends to fall, requiring a longer boiling period, therefore producing a darker syrup. There are generally four different grades used for distinguishing maple syrup and they are Grade A Light Amber, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber and finally Grade B.
Grade A Light Amber is the lightest colored of the syrups, generally produced during the earliest part of the season and has the most delicate flavor. This grade is wonderful for producing the finest maple candies and sugars. It can be used on pancakes, waffles, french toast and fresh fruits.
Grade A Medium Amber is darker than the Light Amber, has a slightly more pronounce maple flavor and is a great topping for ice cream, fresh fruit and the usual pancakes, waffles and french toast.
Grade A Dark Amber is produced during the middle of the season, as the weather continues to warm. It has a rich maple flavor and is a great choice for baking as well as being used as table syrup. This syrup is terrific as a glaze for ham, a sweetener in baked beans and adds a wonderful flavor to squash. When using it in baked goods, make sure you adjust the liquids slightly.
Grade B is the darkest of the syrups and has the strongest maple flavor. This is the last syrup produced during the season and has a very intense maple flavor and dark, rich color. This is usually the best syrup for cooking because of it’s strong flavor.