Pure maple syrup is used in cooking and to smother over breakfast favourites, like pancakes, waffles and French toast. Maple syrup grades classify the syrup's colour, which is usually a visual indication of its flavour.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assigns grades to maple syrup based on colour. The grades allow for a standardised comparison known as the USDA permanent glass colour standards for maple syrup. The colour refers to the amber quality of the syrup, which is ranked from light to dark. The USDA maple syrup grades are A and B. Syrups that don't meet the classification are designated for commercial use.
Grade A vs. Grade B
USDA Grade A maple syrup is light in colour from light amber to dark amber. Light amber syrup has a delicate maple flavour, while dark amber is robust. Grade B is darker and stronger in flavour. It is generally preferred for cooking, although some desire its rich flavour for their breakfast dishes as well.
Making the Grade
When and where the sap was gathered will later determine the grade of the syrup. Maple syrup comes from sap, which is gathered from maple trees in the spring. Sap gathered early in the season usually produces the light amber Grade A syrups. Sap gathered late produces the darker Grade B syrups. \
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