Pure Maine maple syrup is made by boiling the sap of hard rock maple trees. It provides three times the sweetening power of cane sugar, and contains only 40 calories per tablespoon! All Maine maple syrup commercially sold at the retail level is U.S. Grade A, as defined by Maine law. The syrup is further classified by flavor and color characteristics as Golden Color with Delicate Flavor, Amber Color with Rich Flavor, Dark Color with Robust Flavor, and Very Dark Color with Strong Flavor. The words "Maine Maple Syrup" may be used only for pure maple syrup that is produced in Maine.
In the past year, all maple producing states, and Canadian provinces have adopted a universal grading standard. The following are the grades of syrup now found everywhere. As has been the case for years in Maine, Grade B syrup no longer exists, it is now called Reprocessing Syrup and is not available for retail sales.
Golden Color with Delicate Flavor
Generally early season syrup. Light golden color with a delicate maple flavor. Great on ice cream and other foods that allow its subtle flavor to come through.
Amber Color with Rich Flavor
Generally early to mid season syrup. Dark amber color with a more prononuced maple flavor. Most popular syrup for all around use.
Dark Color with Robust Flavor
Generally a mid to late season syrup. Dary syrup with a heavy or robust maple flavor. Great syrup for table use, or cooking in your favorite recipe.
Very Dark Color with Strong Flavor
Generally late season syrup. Great in foods and recipes where the strong maple flavor is preferred. Great baked in cookies, breads, and baked beans.
Maine has a mandatory maple syrup grading law. Pure Maine maple syrup must adhere to some of the strictest standards for density, clarity, color, and flavor. Maple inspectors enforce these laws and assist producers in maintaining high standards and superior quality in their maple products. During 2014, sugarhouses are required to implement the new grading rules but may still sell syrup under the old names of light, medium, dark, and extra dark as they educate consumers to the new grades.