Before I get any further into this post, please let me add this disclaimer, maple syrup grading is not standardized. The US and Canada have two different systems. Within the US different states use different system. For example, in Maine it is illegal to sell Grade B syrup. Does that mean Maine maple producers do not make Grade B syrup? No, they just call it Grade A Extra Dark. W
Why the difference? We'll save that for a later and much longer post. Instead, here is a little useful background information to help you as a maple consumer no matter where your travels take you.
Maple Syrup is broadly classified into three categories, A, B, and C. Grade A is then broken down into three subcategories, Light Amber, Medium Amber, and Dark Amber. A good rule of thumb is the lighter the syrup the higher the grade. The technical difference is less about color and more concerned with translucence. Light Amber is more than 75% translucent. Medium Amber is 60.5 to 75.9% translucent. Dark Amber is 44.0 to 60.4% translucent. Grade B is any syrup less than 44% translucent. Basically the more light that can pass through a glass jar of maple syrup the higher the grade.
Light = sweet and subtle maple flavor. Dark = less sweet more maple flavor.
Wait....What about Grade C?
Grade C maple syrup is also called Commercial Grade Maple Syrup. It is a classification that is used is several states include Vermont, Maine, and Ohio. Grade C maple syrup is very dark, very thick, and not very sweet. Think molasses with a maple flavor. If you're asking yourself why anyone would want to put maple flavored molasses on your pancakes, you're not the only one. Most Commercial Grade Maple Syrup is sold wholesale and is used as a maple flavoring agent. Grade C is actually very good for baking. I would recommend it for use in granola, homemade bbq sauce. Or for you really adventurous home-brewers out there it may make a great mead. (This is a winter project for us and anyone with knowledge of using maple syrup in beer/wine making is encouraged to contact us).