Does anything say autumn more than thick, sweet sap dripping from a maple tree? Did you know that maple syrup is graded into four categories by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure certain standards and practices? Grades are based on the color of the syrup, not the flavor: the lighter the hue, the more delicate or subtle the taste. Like a fine wine, each grade of syrup pairs best with certain foods. The following grades are listed in order of color, from lightest to darkest.

  • U.S. Grade A Light Amber. This delicate syrup is best used as a topping for ice cream or as an ingredient in candy recipes.

  • U.S. Grade A Medium Amber. Slightly more intense in taste and color than Grade A Light, this is the most popular choice for pancakes and waffles.

  • U.S. Grade A Dark Amber. This stronger and thicker syrup is often used in cooking because it stands up to heat and retains its bolder taste.

  • U.S. Grade B. Chefs favor this grade for baking and cooking, as it imparts a deep maple and caramel flavor.