Maple Syrup - Grades


In Canada, maple syrup is classified by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) as one of three grades, each with several colour classes: Canada No. 1, including Extra Light, Light, and Medium; No. 2 Amber; and finally No. 3 Dark or any other ungraded category. Producers in Ontario or Québec may follow either federal or provincial grading guidelines. Québec and Ontario's guidelines differ slightly from the federal: there are two "number" categories in Québec (Number 1, with four colour classes, and 2, with five colour classes). As in Québec, Ontario's producers have two "number" grades: 1, with three colour classes; and 2, with one colour class, which is typically referred to as "Ontario Amber" when produced and sold in that province only. A typical year's yield for a maple syrup producer will be about 25 to 30 percent of each of the #1 colours, 10 percent #2 Amber, and 2 percent #3 Dark.

The United States uses different grading standards. Maple syrup is divided into two major grades: Grade A and Grade B. Grade A is further divided into three subgrades: Light Amber (sometimes known as Fancy), Medium Amber, and Dark Amber. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets uses a similar grading system of colour, and is roughly equivalent, especially for lighter syrups, but using letters: "AA", "A", etc. The Vermont grading system differs from the US system in maintaining a slightly higher standard of product density (measured on the Baumé scale). New Hampshire maintains a similar standard, but not a separate state grading scale. The Vermont-graded product has 0.9 percent more sugar and less water in its composition than US-graded. A grade of syrup not for table use, called commercial or Grade C, is also produced under the Vermont system. Vermont inspectors enforce strict syrup grading regulations, and can fine producers up to US$1000 for labelling syrup incorrectly.

Extra Light and Grade A typically have a milder flavour than Grade B, which is very dark, with a rich maple flavour. The dark grades of syrup are used primarily for cooking and baking, although some specialty dark syrups are produced for table use. The classification of maple syrup in the US depends ultimately on its translucence. US Grade A Light Amber has to be more than 75 percent translucent, US Grade A Medium Amber has to be 60.5 to 74.9 percent translucent, US Grade A Dark Amber has to be 44.0 to 60.4 percent translucent, and US Grade B is any product less than 44.0 percent translucent.

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