Beware Grade B Maple Syrup Trickery

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 129
Both of These Syrups Were Labeled “Grade B”

Maple syrup is a traditional and whole sweetener that has consistently played an integral part of the economies of North America ever since Native Americans first taught the early European settlers how to tap maple trees and boil down the sap.

Maple syrup derived early in the season at the time of the spring thaw runs sweet and clear.  It takes about 20-30 gallons of boiled down sap to make one gallon of light amber colored syrup, labeled as Grade A.   This is the maple syrup typically available in the supermarket.

Late in the season, maple sap thins out and grows watery.  Much more than 20-30 gallons of sap must be boiled down to yield syrup of equal sweetness.   Boiling down more sap to concentrate the sweetness also concentrates the flavor and nutrients.

This late season syrup is darker, more maple flavored, and higher in minerals than the Grade A syrup and is labeled as Grade B.

The blander, lighter syrup typically commands the highest price as consumers tend to prefer sweetness without too much flavor.

The Growing Popularity of Grade B Maple Syrup

I’ve been a fan of Grade B maple syrup for years and have enjoyed the lower price point despite its relative rarity in comparison to Grade A.

As consumers have moved further away from refined sweeteners in recent years, however, the price of Grade B has risen as has its availability.

Years ago, I used to be able to call up my maple farmer in Chautauqua, New York who I got to know spending summers there as a youth visiting the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings and ask for a few gallons of Grade B to be shipped and it was no problem.  Then, it became much harder to come by.   In addition, the price for this homely sweetener kept going up with Grade B sometimes even higher in price than Grade A!

In the past couple of years, I’ve purchased maple syrup from Vermont as the price was really fantastic.  The first few gallons were excellent quality, and then suddenly, I received a gallon of maple syrup from Vermont labeled as Grade B but it was in fact Grade A!

The first time this happened, I thought it was just a simple mistake because the next gallon I got was correctly labeled Grade B.  Then, the “mistake” happened again and then again.

At that point, I realized that this might be happening on purpose – the Grade B was sold out so some gallons of Grade A were labeled as Grade B maple syrup to meet the increasing consumer demand with the hope that the consumer wouldn’t notice the difference.

Then I heard of this happening to other folks buying maple syrup from other sources as well!

Make Sure Your Grade B is Really Grade B

The motto of this story is to check your Grade B maple syrup and make sure you are really getting what you paid for!

Fortunately, it is easy to tell the difference. Grade B maple syrup is much much darker than Grade A so it is easy to tell the difference if you put them side by side.  What I do is keep a small glass bottle of Grade A from the supermarket in the pantry to use as a comparison test each time I buy some Grade B in bulk.

More change is on the horizon, however!

By 2013, new international standards for labeling maple syrup will come into effect with the term Grade B no longer used.

Once these new standards come into effect, all maple syrup will be labeled Grade A with four identifying colors:  Golden, Amber, Dark, and Very Dark.

Have you purchased what you thought was Grade B maple syrup only to discover that it was really Grade A?  If so, what did you do?  Did you complain or just switch suppliers?

Please note also that there is a significant difference between conventional and organic maple syrup producers. This article spills the beans on these little known production practices that will have many consumers switching brands in a hurry!

Do you just love Grade B maple syrup? If so, here’s a healthy, homemade maple kombucha salad dressing to try.

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


More Information

Sugar in the Raw That’s Not

Coconut Sugar: A Healthy and Sustainable Sweetener

Don’t Fall for Xylitol

Avoid Sugar Alcohols to Protect Gut Health

Comments (129)

  • Ryan Gardner

    Grade B syrup has nothing to do with the sugar content of the sap and is primarily due to the amount of time microbes have worked on the sap and made inverse sugar in the sap prior to booking. The invert sugars are more involved with complicated reactions that darken the syrup and strengthen the “maple” flavor.

    A sugarmaker can make “Grade B” any time of the season by simply aging the sap.

    The grade of the syrup is based on both color and flavor. The grade is the “highest” of both of those. An Amber colored syrup with a taste characteristic of Dark syrup will be graded as Dark even though it is lighter.

    April 3rd, 2016 9:34 am Reply
  • Kathleen Betz via Facebook

    I have a bottle of sugar syrup, labeled as maple syrup, not even a smidgen of real maple anything in it.

    October 29th, 2014 6:03 am Reply
  • Carrie Stutler Dunham via Facebook

    I love that we can get it directly from a maple sugar camp in PA.

    October 28th, 2014 1:46 pm Reply
  • Michelle Morton via Facebook

    Just the name has changed, folks…if it is dark it is what you considered grade b. Buy it directly from the farmers for best quality!

    October 28th, 2014 12:50 pm Reply
  • Tina Lewis Ronfeldt via Facebook

    Our family has produced maple syrup over a wood fire for over 30 yrs for family and friends up here in North central WI. We have many high sugar content maple trees on our property and only make dark amber syrup. It tastes the best!

    October 28th, 2014 12:41 pm Reply
  • Kathryn Roux Dickerson via Facebook

    I’m sad to think on my childhood of this. “Pancakes” came from a box of Bisquik mixed with water (and we only had it when we ran out of milk). “Syrup” was corn syrup mixed with fake maple flavoring. Yuck, yuck, yuck! What is more, we actually had Jersey cows for part of the time I was growing up, and my dad pasteurized the heck out of it. No wonder I hated food. So glad I’ve learned another way.

    October 28th, 2014 12:34 pm Reply
  • Kelley Noe via Facebook

    Why does everything good end up compromised?!

    October 28th, 2014 12:28 pm Reply
  • Amy McGann via Facebook

    New England born and raised, and grade B is the best kept secret! We have loved grade B for years, and have noticed that some of our suppliers have quit carrying grade A, but I’m wondering if it’s a similar situation to the article writers, in that they were mislabeling them and got rid of A for side by side comparison.

    October 28th, 2014 10:38 am Reply
  • Jo Anne Tell via Facebook

    We purchase ours directly from Vermont, and it is certified Grade B. You can tell the difference pretty quickly in taste.

    October 28th, 2014 10:19 am Reply
  • Michelle Morton via Facebook

    One more post- if it is dark- it is the same as what you previously considered grade B!

    October 28th, 2014 9:25 am Reply
  • Chris Kopec via Facebook

    Here’s a guide to the new grades:

    October 28th, 2014 9:24 am Reply
  • Michelle Morton via Facebook

    Also, the darker the syrup, the more mapley flavor. Im pretty sure that the whole “more minerals in grade B” is an urban legend. All the syrup is made the same way. Grade A fancy is the least maple flavored and more sweet. We prefer the darker syrup for the flavor. It is all made from 100% maple sap. The color depends on outside temperature, boiling time, (water in the sap) etc.

    October 28th, 2014 9:22 am Reply
  • Chris Kopec via Facebook

    Starting January 1, 2015…… Maple syrup will no longer have a grade B. Anything produced from that date will all be Grade A and be labeled by the COLOR…… What was grade B will now be called…….. Grade A Dark with Robust Taste

    October 28th, 2014 9:22 am Reply
  • Michelle Morton via Facebook

    Grade B is actually a misnomer in Vermont, and has to do with the run of sap- it is usually later in the season. Vermonters called it Grade A dark amber, but I think the names have changed again. What you want is the dark syrup, preferably from a single source farm and not a conglomeration of sources (like bigger brands)

    October 28th, 2014 9:17 am Reply
  • Gail Ann via Facebook

    I read they are getting rid of grade b somewhere.All the terminology will be shifting.

    October 28th, 2014 9:10 am Reply
  • Lona Ringo Sniper Rowdy via Facebook

    the labeling of grade A vs grade B leaves me to think that A is better than B… would you not prefer to get an A on your report card?
    i don’t remember A & B grading of maple syrup here in Canada. i buy amber and dark regularly from the guy up the road

    October 28th, 2014 9:07 am Reply
  • Courtney Lanphere via Facebook

    I used to actively seek out grade b, however after talking with someone who makes syrup – they explained the syrup is made the same way, the only difference is the dark color and the stronger flavor. Grade A is usually used as the pancake syrup and grade B is better for baking. The same minerals etc.. are present in both. Have you ever tested it? I’m still wondering if it is a myth started by Stanley Burroughs or really has more health benefits.

    October 28th, 2014 8:37 am Reply
  • Kaye Ward Richardson via Facebook

    How do they get away with this? Why can’t we trust the food industry to provide what they say they are selling? Why isn’t Grade B Maple Syrup reliably Grade B? Why isn’t honey always real honey? And why isn’t olive oil actual olive oil? I do not understand these shoddy practices!

    October 28th, 2014 8:15 am Reply
    • Rob

      THIS is “why” …

      “People are fed by the food industry which pays no attention to health – and are treated by the health industry which pays no attention to food.” ~ Wendell Berry

      February 25th, 2015 8:15 am Reply
  • Juanita Gober via Facebook

    I always wondered the difference. Just bought grade A because it cost slightly more regular price but was on sale so was cheaper than B for once. I thought A would be better in flavor and nutrients so that’s why it was more expensive. I realized I prefer B so ha! Cheaper here so that’s fine for me.

    October 28th, 2014 8:14 am Reply
  • Melissa Butler via Facebook

    We only get Grade A here in Australia

    October 28th, 2014 6:03 am Reply
  • Tania Jurekie via Facebook

    I just looked at my maple syrup and it says C grade. How does that compare? Is B better?

    October 28th, 2014 3:50 am Reply
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  • Andew deLivron

    Check out the grade comparisons on with the chart on the bottom of this web site:

    Warning be very carful with the darkest grade it is not supposed to be sold if it is off flavor. But flavor is often the judgment of the producer. The darkest grade has typically been used for cooking some my like it others may not.

    If you want to know more about why we have light to dark colors check out Cornell’s Maple Research site. Cornell and UVM both do maple research in the US and Center Acer in Canada.

    26.Why is maple syrup different colors?

    The color in maple syrup results from a browning reaction that occurs during the latter stages of evaporation. Sap that is boiled longer makes a darker colored syrup. Therefore, anything that slows the evaporation process, such as uneven or weak fire, an inefficient evaporator, or too much sap in the evaporator, will cause dark syrup. Because color develops during the latter stages of boiling sap, it is particularly important to reduce processing time as the sap approaches syrup. Microorganisms in sap can also cause darkening. Sap flowing into the sap house can be treated with UV light to kill the microorganisms. Sap should be processed as soon as possible after collection to reduce the potential for microorganisms and thus reduce the quality of syrup produced.

    Syrup may also darken during storage. To prevent darkening, hot syrup that has just been put into containers should be allowed to cool before the containers are packed close together. Gas exchange during storage can also cause syrup to darken.

    April 2nd, 2014 10:26 pm Reply
  • Alma Garcia Haran via Facebook

    Lighter syrups are usually the result of earlier harvested saps and the darker ones are from later harvest. Time of season and changes within the trees is what will determine the color/flavor, not the boiling process.

    April 2nd, 2014 8:02 pm Reply
    • Lisa

      I just read the opposite! The earlier the sap is harvested the darker it is. Yikes, what to believe! but you are correct in saying it has nothing to do with the boiling process.

      April 28th, 2014 9:49 pm Reply
  • Alma Garcia Haran via Facebook

    Moving to VT recently from FL, we have found out that all maple syrup is beneficial. They all have the same amount of health benefits. The local sugar houses explain it all. The darker the amber color is due to when the sap was collected. Later or earlier during the season.

    April 2nd, 2014 7:43 pm Reply
    • Smarie

      There are three grades we have the new grading kit. A-delicate, a-rich amber and dark robust. So if you like flavor dark robust. But to comment on the grading, when you pull off the syrup just before you bottle it you have to grade it. If it is darker than the lightest you have to go with the next one down if it is darker than the middle you have to go the next one down again. You cannot go to the lighter one even if you want to.

      April 4th, 2014 7:30 pm Reply
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  • Rick

    Hi, we at PIECES OF VERMONT sell and have sold a lot of Grade B Maple Syrup over the years, produced by small sugarhouses in northern Vermont. It’s one of our customer favorites. You can rest assured that when you shop on for Grade B, it’s just that – 100% pure and natural Vermont Grade B Maple Syrup. In fact, sometimes the website photography for Grade B is sooo dark, it’s almost unrealistic. It looks black! And indeed the standards are changing soon as to how syrup is labeled, but the problem there is, everyone searching for Grade B isn’t searching with keywords such as “robust maple flavor” or “dark amber color syrup”. They’re searching for “grade b maple syrup”. My point being, it will impact the “little guy” who relies on organic search engine traffic if suddenly the use of the phrase “grade b maple syrup” in product copy is phased out.

    October 10th, 2013 5:30 pm Reply
  • Dave Loiselle

    If you prefer grade B maple syrup that’s great. Your opinion about why people may prefer lighter grades is way off base, however. If you need the maple flavor to survive baking or in candies then grade B is what you need. It has a very overpowering ‘mapley’ taste. If your palette is not suited to the subtle, light taste of the higher grades then you should definitely stick with the cheaper grade B. Why would you pay more for a taste that you cannot appreciate. While you may think that the grade A varieties are just a scam to get you to part with more money the people that make maple syrup have been doing it since colonial times. Apparently it is there opinion that the lighter grades are more valuable and in higher demand than the late season grades. I always buy mine from Vermont simply because I have a thing for Vermont where I grew up. I always buy the lightest grade A because it is what I like. The flavor is light and not overpowering but you definitely know that you are eating maple syrup. I am sure the Vermont producers will not be taking up any international standard as their very strict grading rules is one of the things that sets Vermont maple syrup apart from others and as you can see the Canadians are not that fussy.

    September 7th, 2013 1:34 pm Reply
  • Andrew deLivron

    I work in the industry and have sold maple syrup commercially. So important notes.

    1. Grades are all about colors are all about flavor intensity. Grade “C” is generally referred to as Commercial Syrup for cooking. It and is usually off flavor and extra dark.

    2. Yes the grades will change between 2114 and 2115.

    3. There is no known scientific research to support that Grade “B” is more health then Grade “A” . I can offer a full discussion on why the lighter grades exist vs darker. Even with in the industry there are some new theories are be discussed why the 2013 production year produced so much light syrup.

    4. If you really want to judge grades you need a set of color bottles used for grading. That will cost you about $30.

    5. All syrup should be graded properly and in many states if the grade is not proper the product can be removed from the shelf by various state agencies.

    I hope I have taken some of the myths out of maple syrup for the readers.

    August 24th, 2013 8:40 am Reply
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  • Elizabeth Gilhuly


    I had thought that Grade C was the best maple syrup to purchase? Are you saying Grade B is just as good? I found a good source for Grade C, which they call “end of season syrup.”

    June 4th, 2013 4:10 pm Reply
    • Lisa

      There is NO difference in nutrients between the different grades. The only difference is color.

      April 28th, 2014 9:51 pm Reply
      • Lisa

        Sorry, there may be other differences, e.g., flavor, odor, etc. I meant that one is not better than another when it comes to being “healthy”.

        April 28th, 2014 9:54 pm Reply
        • Rob

          THE difference is, that grade A is from earlier in the maple tapping season (colder) when the sap is thinner, higher in sugar and lower in minerals, while sap collected later in the tapping season has higher mineral content and lower sugar content and the syrup is darker.

          People who prefer nutrition over sweetness -are- aware of the difference … particularly those who use the “Master Cleanser” (also known as the “lemonade diet”) technique for fasting/cleansing … which is specifically (intentionally) “healthy”.

          Go to a maple syrup & sugar farm, view and taste the samples. There are very distinct differences.

          February 25th, 2015 8:26 am Reply
  • maple maniac

    I have to respectfully disagree with this post. Under current USDA regs, Grade B is not just dependent on color but also on taste, odor and clarity. Any substandard factors present in any color of syrup that disqualifies it as Grade A downgrades it to Grade B or even lower depending on the extent of the defects.

    April 18th, 2013 1:45 pm Reply
  • Colleen B

    So I was just checking out my maple syrup that I bought at the end of the season last year. I realized it is Grade A. The weird part is, it is very dark. So I am not sure what to make of that! I can’t wait to get back to the farmer’s market and look around more to see if they have an even darker version. So in the future if the Grade B is going away, which words are the best to look for? Dark Amber or Very Dark?

    March 25th, 2013 5:02 pm Reply
  • Cynthia

    If your beet kvass become mold doing fermenation can you still use it.

    March 19th, 2013 11:54 am Reply
  • Brad Boon

    Hello Sarah,
    I am a small maple producer from central Wisconsin. I use the USDA light test to grade my syrup. I have found that I get on average 60% Grade B and 40% grade A syrup from my operation every season. We just started tapping trees on Friday and we are waiting for the weather to cooperate so we can collect and start cooking! We still have some of last season’s grade B left, you can find it at Thanks,

    Brad Boon
    Greenwood, WI

    March 10th, 2013 6:14 pm Reply
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  • Crystal

    This is all very interesting. Thanks Sarah for the article :)

    January 16th, 2013 1:33 pm Reply
  • Maple Syrup from Vermont

    Sarah, contact us through our web site and we’d be happy to send you some of our genuine Vermont Grade B to try.

    September 30th, 2012 9:32 am Reply
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  • Phil

    What looks like a better control of this maybe even a shift to something worse!!!
    If you just give it a tint label (without any explanation of the full origin and ingredients), perhaps this allows for suppliers to introduce additives to give it the color and even additives for flavor intensification.
    This is nothing new in other industries, but I would hate to see this happen to foods we expect to be 100% natural (this term is also fudged often by adding other ingredients derrived from nature, but unnaturally occurring in the process of making goods.

    I hope that won’t be the case. I also hope we have spines in the FDadmin.

    July 30th, 2012 1:01 pm Reply
  • Paula

    Our solution has been to make our own Birch Syrup. It takes 100 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup, but we had a good year just from the trees on our one acre. Over 8 gallons of syrup!

    June 23rd, 2012 3:33 pm Reply
    • Mimi

      It would be interesting to know if there are nutritional differences between birch syrup and maple syrup.

      January 3rd, 2013 10:26 pm Reply
  • Maggie

    Well as I comment couples days ago I got my grade B maple syrup from the brand Now ,because here in florida I don’t think we have maple trees,before that brand I like the one in Wisconsin but now I can afford it, Maple Valley from wisconsin I think is good but a gallon is 80.85$ plus deliver,Sarah do you know this brand from Wisconsin , give me a hint,thanks ,maggie
    I heard that wisconsin is one of the best on Maples, also up state N.y

    June 19th, 2012 9:37 pm Reply
    • Maple Syrup from Vermont

      Don’t rule out Vermont’s maple syrup. We have the strictest labeling and purity standards, and you can find some very reasonable prices online.

      September 30th, 2012 9:35 am Reply
  • Sarah @ Basic Ingredients

    Thanks for sharing!! I always buy Grade B but it’s good to know I need to double check!

    June 19th, 2012 7:25 pm Reply
  • Desiree

    With the new labeling of maple syrup being golden, amber, dark, and very dark, how do we know that certain manufacturers will not add artificial coloring to it to make it dark?? I think the new grading system actually makes it easier for them to sell us the cheap stuff disguised as the better (Grade B) stuff…

    June 18th, 2012 5:40 pm Reply
  • melissa

    My grandparents own and run a maple syrup farm in northeastern Wisconsin. I’ve seen over the years how truly dependent they are on the weather for a good harvest! When we have a warm winter like the one just passed, the trees don’t get a chance to have a big “run” of sap. So it’s hard to say if the higher cost of Grade B is really from rising demand for it, or just the scarcity of overall syrup supply. I’m thankful to get our family of 7’s supply of pure maple syrup for free from generous grandparents. 😉

    June 18th, 2012 9:47 am Reply
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  • Pavil, the Uber Noob

    Would we not be better off if the government was out of the food and health industry altogether?

    Ciao, Pavil

    June 18th, 2012 7:41 am Reply
  • cindy L.

    Yes, Sarah. This very thing has happened to our buying group. We ordered from a local organic farmer who buys from a producer in KY. The grade B I got tasted virtually no different from the Grade A I had in my pantry left from last year. I don’t like the really thick dark molasses-y syrup, so I was ok with it, and I couldn’t really complain about the price–they were the same for A and B. It’s just that in my estimation, there wasn’t a substantial difference between the 2. So I’m glad you brought this to light.

    June 17th, 2012 6:54 pm Reply
    • Amanda

      Do you mind sharing the producer in KY? I am in KY, and I’d love to buy locally!

      April 2nd, 2013 10:30 am Reply
  • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

    They would have to add more maple taste flavoring to it also if they were going to pull that stunt as Grade B tastes much richer than Grade A also. It’s not just the color that gives it away. I doubt it though as most consumers still want Grade A. It’s we health nuts that prefer Grade B.

    June 17th, 2012 8:53 am Reply
  • Paula

    Very interesting. I just bought some Grade B at Nutrition Smart (pricey due to late in season I suppose)– I will have to check it closely. It’s usually very dark. First time I got it several years ago I wondered why it was so much darker than what I used to buy in the commercial grocery store. Makes sense now!

    June 17th, 2012 7:51 am Reply
  • Lola

    Up in Canada we have a ‘c’ grade which is an even later season syrup. It is loaded with minerals and vitamins and is nearly black in color (or at least a really deep brown). Is this available in the US and is there a reason why you don’t use it Sarah?

    June 17th, 2012 2:35 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I talked to my maple farmer about it before and he says there is no such thing as Grade C from a labeling perspective. That any maple syrup that is called grade C is really just Grade B.

      June 17th, 2012 8:50 am Reply
      • taplin hill sugarworks

        This is untrue. Grade C is darker than Grade B. And in Vermont is not saleable unless it is 5 gallons or more. Meaning it can not be sold in gallon, halfs etc. If the taste is good it is usually blended to make B.

        October 20th, 2013 2:08 pm Reply
  • Audry

    Maple syrup is made by boiling down the sap from sugar maple trees, and molasses is basically what’s taken out of sugar cane to leave behind white sugar. They’re not even remotely related to one another.

    June 16th, 2012 9:52 pm Reply
    • Jonie

      Thank you!

      June 16th, 2012 9:58 pm Reply
  • Jonie

    Can someone explain to me the difference between maple syrup and molasses?

    June 16th, 2012 9:41 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    If it looks like Grade A and tastes like Grade A and exactly matches the light stuff at the supermarket, it is Grade A. Sticking a Grade B label on it doesn’t make it so.

    June 16th, 2012 9:20 pm Reply
  • Deborah Towne via Facebook

    As a Vermonter the color varies from season to season. There are many grades of A as well fancy, medium/amber and dark the past few years almost no grade b was produced. there are official grading kits you can purchase and it’s highly regulated. Other than flavor it’s still the same exact product and a dark A will suffice for most purposes. It is always the same price and entirely dictated by nature will vary by place and soil, think of it as buying fruit at the farmers market it will depend on ripeness time of year and local weather maple is a local crop and farmers have little control over mother nature this year the weather snapped and very little was produced. I’d be more worried about the companies that mix it with cane or beet sugar and sell it as pure at least a local farmer is giving you true local natural syrup. I think this post is highly misleading

    June 16th, 2012 8:31 pm Reply
  • Our Small Hours

    Thanks for this post. The post and the comments were very helpful to me. I guess the price will go up once everything is “Grade A”, huh? Still worth it, though.

    June 16th, 2012 7:31 pm Reply
  • pd

    We just returned from Maine, up near the Canadian border. We know a great guy there who works in the states during the week and spends his weekends in Canada. We asked him to get us some maple syrup from Canada (cheaper for the quality). He asked us what color we wanted because they have (when in stock) 4-5 different colors from very light (what we call grade A here) to variations of dark (which might be called grade A for the lighter darks and B for the darker darks). He brought us some “medium” dark as they were out of all the other colors. He said the darkest dark is unpalatable for most folks, but next time I visit I hope to get some just to try it.

    Long before I knew of the nutritional benefits of dark over light maple syrup, I have always preferred the darker kind. The light kind tastes very bland to me and actually not as sweet and I will end up using more of it to get any flavor. I eat a lot of what some people might consider bland food (not a lot of seasonings so you can taste the food rather than the seasoning) but bland maple syrup is not one of them.

    June 16th, 2012 6:47 pm Reply
  • Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse

    I have heard news from my home-state, Vermont, that the mild winter severely hurt maple syrup production. Sounds like economic forces lead your supplier down a path of dishonesty:-( Sorry!

    June 16th, 2012 6:17 pm Reply
  • Maggie

    oops,means syrup

    June 16th, 2012 5:21 pm Reply
  • Maggie

    Hi tyo all,wonderful information Sarah, after all this tragedy that I already notice a little ago, for about 2 years now I only buy the brand NOW grade B maple syro it is wonderfl,maggie

    June 16th, 2012 5:19 pm Reply
  • Nichole Davis via Facebook

    This JUST happened to me! Thanks for sharing, I knew something was wrong! The maple syrup company said the color could be light or dark and that they didn’t think it was labeled wrong. But you can tell by the taste!

    June 16th, 2012 2:29 pm Reply
  • Brooke L Allen via Facebook

    My grade A syrup is darker colored than the lighter Grade B that you show in that picture.

    June 16th, 2012 2:28 pm Reply
  • Tonya Scarborough via Facebook


    June 16th, 2012 1:09 pm Reply
  • mikki

    I need to NOT be notified follow ups. Thanks.

    June 16th, 2012 1:03 pm Reply
  • Robin Adler via Facebook

    Thanks! You should have a link to your Twitter on your site!

    June 16th, 2012 12:52 pm Reply
  • Jacqualine

    Can you please tel me who you use in NY. I live right outside of Buffalo and I’m looking for a local place since my supplier is no longer selling. Thanks, Jacqualine

    June 16th, 2012 12:44 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      My New York supplier is awesome and I’m sure would never pull any tricks. You can find him at the Chautauqua Institution Farmer’s Market. I do not post farmer details on my blog.

      June 16th, 2012 7:06 pm Reply
  • Marlena

    I had no idea about the differences in maple syrup… I have been using it lately while making water kefir which they seem to love. But I will definately be looking into this more. Thanks for all the helpful info.

    June 16th, 2012 12:39 pm Reply
  • jean finch

    My Trader Joes organic grade B maple syrup is very dark—-maybe I just got lucky!

    June 16th, 2012 12:19 pm Reply
    • Myriah

      mine too :)

      June 16th, 2012 12:58 pm Reply
    • Maggie

      Maybe i try that,thanks Jeans Finch

      June 19th, 2012 9:39 pm Reply
  • Kat

    OK, so when the new standards take effect, just buy “very dark” since it’s all going to be labeled grade A? Is there any explanation for the change other than to confuse the consumer?

    June 16th, 2012 12:00 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook


    June 16th, 2012 11:56 am Reply
  • Shelby

    It seems to me that it may be easier to buy the REAL grade B maple syrup after 2013 since it will be labeled dark or very dark. I thought it was a scam so you couldn’t the difference but this may make it easier!

    June 16th, 2012 11:49 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Yes, when I wrote the Bye Bye Grade B Maple Syrup post back in Nov 2011, that is what I thought too. Now that I’ve gotten Grade A labeled as Grade B, I’m thinking the labeling changes might actually be beneficial in preventing this from happening to consumers in the future.

      June 16th, 2012 11:53 am Reply
  • Cherie

    So when they change the labeling, will you want to buy very dark?

    June 16th, 2012 11:49 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Either Dark or Very Dark. The darker the better.

      June 16th, 2012 11:54 am Reply
  • Robin Adler via Facebook

    Great article, as usual…was wondering if you have a Twitter account? Was looking for you on there! :)

    June 16th, 2012 11:46 am Reply
    • Maggie

      Robin can you tell me how can add my picture in my id for the blog,thanks

      June 16th, 2012 5:26 pm Reply
  • tina

    I just don’t buy maple syrup and haven’t for a couple of years. There seems to be many issues with what the providers are doing with their trees to make them produce syrup.

    June 16th, 2012 11:43 am Reply
    • Mrs D

      I hadn’t heard of this Tina. What are they doing to the trees ? :(

      June 16th, 2012 3:22 pm Reply
    • taplin hill sugarworks

      That is too bad that you are not buying maple syrup, can you explain what producers are doing to their trees. I personally know of no producer that would do anything to shorten the lives or lower the health of any maple tree.

      October 20th, 2013 1:59 pm Reply
  • mary

    Why buy grade B over A?

    June 16th, 2012 11:32 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      This is explained in the post.

      June 16th, 2012 11:55 am Reply
    • Maggie

      mary grade B is much better in flavor and also have more minerals,it is more pricey but t is worth it

      June 16th, 2012 5:24 pm Reply
      • nf

        There is awealth of misinformation in this post and it’s comments though maple maniac and Andrew de Livron have tried to set the record straight. Grade B is an inferior grade that did not make the cut as grade A because of a defect in color, clarity, and/or taste.

        Grade has absolutely nothing to do with mineral content!! Mineral content will be roughly equal between grades since most minerals are filtered out as sugar sand..

        Darker color and deeper flavor is mostly due to microbial action which is more likely as the season progresses and the weather warms. Sugars are degraded into simpler ones that more readily carmelize. Prolonged cooking also encourages carmelization and thus a darker color and more pronounced taste.

        If you like the dark stuff as many do then go for it but don’t do so because you think it is healthier. It is not

        September 7th, 2013 5:36 pm Reply
        • Bill

          Many of these comments are misleading or just plain wrong. Maple syrup grades have nothing to do with the quality of the syrup. ALL maple syrup is held to the same quality standards. There is no such thing as “inferior Grade B”. The grades indicate the color of the syrup and the strength of the maple taste. Grade A in its three levels is light to medium amber with a delicate maple taste and is from sap tapped early in the season when sugar content is at its highest. Grade B is late season sap where the sugar content could be as low as .9%, needing far more sap to get the same yield, thus a higher concentration of flavor and darker color. Grade C is at the absolute end of the tapping season and is the lowest sugar concentration of sap. It is very dark and heavy in taste and is typically only used in commercial baking and flavoring.

          Tastes have changed over the years, it used to be that anything other than what is now Grade A Fancy was barreled and sold to the commercial market. Now people value the pronounced maple flavor of the “lower grades”. Since they were more affordable in the past people became accustomed to them and the law of supply and demand took over from there…

          I find it very funny that the author thinks she was cheated by receiving “Grade A” syrup labelled as Grade B, as if the Grade A was inferior…

          Do some research people…

          “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove any doubt.”

          November 21st, 2013 11:05 am Reply
  • Nancy

    We also live in NY and produce our own maple syrup, just for our family. Your one fact was wrong, it take roughly 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. Beth is correct, we had a lousy winter this year and only got half the amount of sap/syrup of what we usually do. Also, the different grades come in many different colors. I would say both those in the jars above are grade B, but they came from different batches which is why the color is different. The lighter one is kind of an in between, as the sap gradually changes. Grade A is a blond color, or golden, almost pretty much see through. You can actually buy a color guide from maple syrup supply companies. It has many different bottles with different color grade syrups to help you judge if your syrup is A or B.

    June 16th, 2012 10:44 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      The one on the right is Grade A. It exactly matches the color of the Grade A I purchased at the supermarket.

      June 16th, 2012 11:07 am Reply
      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        Also, it may take you 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup but other areas may take less as discussed here:

        June 16th, 2012 11:12 am Reply
        • Nancy

          Well, I am someone who actually makes the product and has friends who make it for a whole NE distribution. I have never ever had a gallon of syrup from 20 gallons of sap. If that was possible if have twice as much maple syrup as I do now! The least amount I’ve gotten was a gallon of syrup out of 36 gallons of sap. My friends with the maple company say the same thing! Whoever that reporter is who wrote that article you referenced needs to actually get outside and make his own to see that 20 gallons is impossible. Even 30 would be hard to believe.

          June 18th, 2012 11:18 am Reply
          • Bill

            As one who has (in the past) made many hundreds of gallons of maple syrup, I agree with you. 40 to 1 is a much more realistic average. As for light or dark, tastes have changed since I was involved. Anything darker than Grade A Light went right into the barrels for industrial use. Now everyone seems to affect a liking for the more flvourful (brackish) dark. The main factor in darker syrup by the way, is rain runoff from the trees.

            January 4th, 2013 11:27 am
        • taplin hill sugarworks

          As a large scale sugarmaker I would like to comment on the article and also some of the comments that I have read.

          First The sample that I am looking at on the top looks like Grade C to me, Also known as commercial. But without a sample to test I can not be sure.

          Second, I am not sure about the 20-30 gallons to make a gallon. I have none of those trees on my property that is for sure. The industry standard is 40:1. The actual ratio is something close to 87.1 gallons of 1 % sap. In a general conversation people will discuss sap at 2%.

          Now, as far as buying from Trader Joes, or any big retailer. When you purchase from them you are getting what is called a blend. The packer takes multiple barrels and blends them all together to get the color that he wants. That is packaged and sold as is. Now personally I would prefer to buy from a reputable producer. You are more likely to get the best of his crop. What people don’t really understand is maple syrup will taste different from batch to batch, why? No idea. But you will never get the “best” buying from a retail store.

          Now the description of Grade A…… That represents 3 other “colors”. In Vermont we have Grade A Fancy, Grade A Medium, and Grade A Dark. So saying Grade A does not really mean a lot.

          Maple syrup is a wonderful commodity that is under utilized that is for sure. But to the person who wrote this article, please get the facts next time before writing about maple syrup. There are enough misleading facts out there and there are plenty of good locations for information.

          Go to Vermont Sugar Makers Association for more info.

          October 20th, 2013 1:52 pm Reply
          • Mike N

            It is good to have someone who actually produces or is directly involved n the industry speak on this. I grew up in Ohio and still reside here, we are one of the top producing Maple Syrup States as well. I studied maple production in college as part of getting my Degree in Forestry, my father would cook down some sap occasionally from his woods as a winter project, and I live near a region in Western Ohio where several small Amish farms produce and market their own syrup. Yes, while its apparent that the author didn’t always get the same color syrup as “her” Grade B syrup, I personally would not be complaining about getting what is considered as a higher grade for my dollar. It intrigues me how often I read articles online like this, that not in every case, but in many, the author never stepped foot personally out in the field they are writing on. As the season progresses the mineral content does increase, as many have stated above. I have seen where the color of the sap starts to get cloudy and I have even tasted it having a more bitter taste before cooking. This is why Maple syrup is only being produced in that short window of time during the late winter/early spring.

            March 10th, 2016 8:47 am
  • Melissa @ Dyno-mom

    Ack! My husband’s uncle used to make the maple syrup we had. It was an annual gift to receive a few gallons in the mail. But he passed away recently and we have to buy ours. I am no expert when it comes to maple syrup, but even his early syrup was dark and heavy tasting and far superior to anything I have ever bought anywhere. Maybe it was his process and maybe it was the having cows in the orchard with the maple trees but I don’t think I’ll ever have maple syrup that good again. I need to get on my game and find some better sources.

    June 16th, 2012 10:36 am Reply
  • Mikki

    Back to Trader Joe’s…..So is TJ’s grade B really grade B after all? It’s pretty light in color compared to your photo.

    June 16th, 2012 10:29 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      If it’s not the dark color like the one in the left of the photo, it’s not Grade B. At least not to me!! Grade B is very dark.

      June 16th, 2012 10:32 am Reply
    • Myriah

      The grade B I get at TJ’s is very dark. Interesting……

      June 16th, 2012 12:49 pm Reply
      • Mikki

        Just got my bottle of TJ’s grade B out and it is not as dark as the one on the left, kind of in-between the two. Maybe it varies from batch to batch??

        June 18th, 2012 8:47 am Reply
        • Olivia

          i saw a big bottle of B at Joe’s that was very dark, and a smaller organic B that was less dark.

          anyway, should we be concerned about buying organic syrup? i don’t know if there’s a compelling reason to…

          October 16th, 2012 12:12 pm Reply
  • Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy

    how interesting! what a great post! i had no idea!!

    June 16th, 2012 10:23 am Reply
  • Tawnya

    Well I hope you called them out and they were honest to give you back the price difference.

    June 16th, 2012 10:20 am Reply
  • Beth

    This winter was too warm up here in the East to get a lot of maple syrup. The trees just didn’t produce so the farmers should have raised their prices greatly for Grade B because of it’s rarity this season. It sounds like they chose the other route so as not to lose customers but this defeats the whole idea of supply and demand to keep them in business. I’d suggest switching to a different sweetener during years like this.

    June 16th, 2012 10:15 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I had no idea about how the weather affects maple syrup production but of course this makes sense. I’ve been using more coconut nectar which is wonderful … I wonder how we as consumers can know about how the weather is affecting maple trees each year so as to be aware of what might be happening down the road? I had no idea that something was up until I received maple syrup incorrectly labeled.

      June 16th, 2012 10:20 am Reply
      • Ann

        The problem may become systemic. Apparently, there is some anticipation that global warming will be seriously affecting maple syrup supply in the future:

        We really need to push for more regulation over carbon emissions.

        June 16th, 2012 3:13 pm Reply
        • D.

          @ Ann: I wouldn’t believe anything written in that rag. Global warming? Oh. My. Gosh. It’s been debunked about a hundred times just this year already. And carbon emissions are a joke – a regulation joke in order to give the regulators something to regulate. It’s a fairy tale but a whole lot of people buy into it, I know.

          Heck I can’t even FIND grade B maple syrup. There are very few places even listed online. Besides, I don’t think I could afford to use it as a sweetner even if I COULD find it.

          June 16th, 2012 6:10 pm Reply
          • Nicole, The Non-Toxic Nurse

            Warmer winters, whatever the cause, have been threatening maple syrup production in Vermont for many years. I grew up in Vermont and heard this first-hand from the old men with sap buckets on their maple trees.

            June 16th, 2012 6:21 pm
          • Martha

            @D: I grew up in the cold north 55 yrs ago, and I have to laugh at the strong feelings on both sides re: global warming. It doesn’t really matter what you call it or what the reason is or isn’t…in northern Michigan SOMETHING is different. Snow of 8′ deep (and snow from Sept.-March) has now given way to winters where sometimes there is NO snow. All the fruit crops and maple syrup harvest that depend on cold “spring” temps ’til April are suffering severely. Many farmers have had to sell their family farms to golf developers & such. Maple syrup harvesting was a cultural tradition in many U.S. states. The older people like my dad who still downhill skis at 88 yrs old can’t believe the weather change!

            June 16th, 2012 10:23 pm
          • D.

            Yes, something IS different, but it’s not global warming. The earth moves in *cycles*, always has and always will. Even during spells of significantly cold or hot weather, we can have a weird winter or three stuck in there. We’re actually moving into a cool cycle now. Usually the cycles last from 50 to 100 years, on average. Places like the Old Farmers Almanac have been recording this stuff for many years and even they don’t call it global warming or even climate change, because the climate changes on a daily basis.

            I’m pushing 60 pretty soon and I grew up in the north central part of South Dakota. I’ve seen winters as bad as they come. So much snow we could build forts and tunnel from one to the other – and we did. We could also climb up the snow banks and get on top of the school and sled down. I’ve also seen winters, as a child of the 50’s and 60’s, where we were bottle feeding calves in the middle of February with just a sweater.

            The earth is not static, so weather changes are really more common than not. I do believe, however, that our gov’t is tinkering with the weather and has been for about a century. It’s fun to look it up online because most people don’t even realize it goes on pretty regularly.

            June 17th, 2012 1:55 am
          • Janet

            Global warming is absolute nonsense cooked up so that lots of people can make a lot of money! You are correct D. People need to do their own research, this has been dismissed and debunked over and over. Our planet is living and has a cycle/seasons; like some years we have lots of rain, so not so much, i.e. el nino and el nina, etc.

            June 18th, 2012 3:21 pm
          • Layla


            Global Warming is a fact.
            You are the one living in a fairy tale.

            October 18th, 2013 1:22 pm
        • Anonymous

          If global warming were a true issue and not a scam by the worlds wealthy to create a new money maker for themselves, we would be a minority at rectifying the problem with countries like China who produce more polutants than any other country in the world thumbing their noses at environmental anything!! This subject has very little if any merit when it comes to scientific proof although some will tell you they have the evidence………….or the “smokescreen for sheep”!

          November 13th, 2012 12:35 pm Reply
          • Mint

            Yeah… No… There is a strong consensus in the scientific community that global warming is real. It’s the media organizations/those with agendas which are skewing the details/implications. Besides, even if somehow years of research, peer-reviewed studies, and utilization of the scientific method are wrong- what wrong would the planet get by trying to stop deforestation, stop pollution, and just better the place in general? This is what I have never understood about those vehemently against the idea of global warming. And who do you think are the real scammers- huge, almost unbreakable corporations (like oil companies), or passionate environmentalists and activists?

            May 31st, 2013 12:45 pm
      • Pavil, the Uber Noob

        Coconut nectar has a downside of its own: sweetener at the expense of coconut oil. I would rather have the oil.

        Ciao, Pavil

        June 18th, 2012 7:39 am Reply

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