In 2015, a new standardized grading system for pure maple syrup has been implemented in both Canada and the United States. Prior to this change, the Canadian guidelines would rank the maple syrup from 1 to 3, and the American ones included the Grade A as well as a Grade B. Those labels were confusing and, because of that, many customers were led to believe that certain grades were inferior – that was especially true for the Canada No.3 and the Grade B, which were the darkest grades of maple syrup. Of course, those products were the same quality as the lighter stuff: only their taste and color changed. It could also be confusing for companies that wished to export their products, as the labels were not the same in both countries. That is why many consider the new grading system to be better than the old one.
There are now four categories on the Grade A scale, as well as a Processing Grade for products that do not meet the requirements of the former category. In fact, for a Grade A maple syrup to be bottled and sold as such, it has to be uniform in color, free of any crystals and cloudiness nor any bad scent or taste, and it has to satisfy the requirements of its color class. Any product that does not possess those characteristics is categorized as Processing Grade and cannot be sold in stores.
Even if the four grades have the same quality, their taste is certainly distinguishable from one another. That is what makes maple syrup such a wonderful treat for everyone to enjoy, as its variety of flavors can please many people at once. Each grade also works remarkably well with certain foods, whether you prefer to taste the maple syrup as is or to use it as an ingredient in your favorite recipes. Here are the best combinations if you wish to make the best use out of your favorite maple syrup grade:
The Grade A Golden Color, Delicate Taste maple syrup definitely has the most subtle and mild taste, and that is why you should not necessarily use it for cooking. Indeed, you would probably lose most of its unique flavor if you were to mix it in a recipe, and your food would not have a very definite maple taste to it. In order for its delicate hints to be enjoyed to the maximum, it is probably better to use it as it. For instance, it is a great treat to spill on top of your breakfast, whether it be a pile of pancakes or crepes, waffles or French toasts. It can also be added to vanilla ice cream, Greek yogurt or into a plain oatmeal. This grade of maple syrup is also often used for the production of maple sugar candies and maple butter.
The Grade A Amber Color, Rich Taste maple syrup is more pronounced than the lightest grade, but its maple flavor is still smooth, which makes it a very versatile and delicious type of syrup. Produced mid-season, it is most often used as table syrup, to drizzle on your pancakes in order to create the most decadent breakfast. It is also a great ingredient for recipes and it can be used as a sweetener for many foods. For example, many of us Canadians find it is a great option to sweeten either tea or coffee. It greatly enhances desserts, salad dressings and sauces as well if you are curious to try it out. Since it is known as the most popular grade, it is the most recommended to go for when purchasing maple syrup gifts for your loved ones. It is also the preferred choice if you wish to try your hand at making maple taffy at home.
The Grade A Dark Color, Robust Taste maple syrup is still a good topping option if you prefer its more robust and maple-packed taste. You can add it to your pancake batter or pour it directly on top of your crepes. It is also a great ingredient for the various recipes you plan to treat your family to and, like the other grades, it is much healthier than granulated sugar. Many people use it in marinades, barbecue sauces or to enhance their desserts, and it is also popular for cocktails. Since it has a heavier taste than the lighter grades of maple syrup, many experts recommend to use it more lightly, as adding a too large amount might overwhelm the taste of other foods. This grade also goes well with spicy flavors.
The Grade A Very Dark Color, Strong Taste maple syrup is definitely not the most popular nor the most common, but some people still enjoy its very strong maple-y taste. While you may not necessarily appreciate it for your Sunday breakfast, it is still the preferred choice of many food manufacturers and chefs because of its unique flavor. It is more common to see it in various recipes, and it can be a suitable substitute for molasses and a good ingredient to add in candies. It is also the grade often used for the maple syrup cleanse.
The Processing Grade maple syrup does not meet the requirements for retail sale nor can it be qualified as Grade A, which is why you probably have never seen it anywhere. On the other hand, since it meets both food quality guidelines and maple regulations, it is still edible and still is considered as maple syrup. Produced at the very end of the sugaring season, it is used as a commercial ingredient for various food products and is also convenient for agricultural purposes.
In the end, you can choose to add the delicious and versatile Grade A Amber Color or any other grade of maple syrup to your pantry. Either way, you will assuredly run into many great opportunities to make the best of this exquisite nectar from Mother Nature.