Bye Bye Grade B Maple Syrup

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 82

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 to make this homely sweetener.

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.

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 currently labeled as Grade B.

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

Consumers in the know, however, choose the Grade B syrup for the higher mineral and nutritional content.   These savvy consumers have long enjoyed lower prices for the Grade B product, but this may soon be ending.

By 2013, new international standards for labeling maple syrup will come into effect with Grade B no longer used.   The new system for categorizing maple syrup is designed with the express purpose of eliminating discrimination against the darker syrup.

As a result, all maple syrup will be labeled Grade A with four identifying colors:  Golden, Amber, Dark, and Very Dark.

With all syrups labeled the same, equality in pricing is the anticipated result.

So, stock up on Grade B while you still can.   Once the inferior Grade B is removed from the label, this most flavorful and nutritious of syrups will be commanding a higher price much the same as the lighter colored, blander, and more plentiful syrup.

An important thing to also know about maple syrup is the very different production practices between conventional and organic. This article details the differences that will likely have any educated consumers switching brands in a hurry!

For more on whole, nutritious sweeteners, check out my videoblog on the subject and be sure to check out vetted producers on my Resources page.


Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Source:   Making the Grade:  Why the Cheapest Maple Syrup Tastes Best

Photo Credit

Comments (82)

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  • Maple Syrup from Vermont

    Here in Vermont we have the strictest maple syrup labeling laws, so you can be assured when you buy grade B here that it is exactly that. Our grade B – – has rich maple flavor and is backed by a satisfaction guarantee. It’s a shame to hear of anyone misleading consumers as to the contents of the jug.

    September 30th, 2012 9:25 am Reply
  • Seerak

    This is interesting, because that four-tier system is similar to the one used in Ontario.

    However, they do not map one-to-one! I purchased a sampler of all four Canadian grades from a sugar bush near St. Catharines, Ontario, and I found that Grade B was most similar to the “Amber” designation. The “Dark” syrup, on the other hand, was nearly molasses-like in flavor, incredibly rich. I’ve never found the like here in the U.S.

    April 15th, 2012 6:33 pm Reply
  • Diane

    Hi. I have been researching maple syrup and can find no evidence that grade B is any better than grade A. Can you tell me where I could find information on this? From what I have read it seems to all be about the time of year the syrup is tapped. And that grade A is not different and does not have less mineral content. I seriously can not find any info showing other wise. In the big sceme of things, I don’t think grade B can be all that much better for you. I think it really comes down to matter of taste preference. But I’m not sure this a food item to get hung up on. It is fascinating to learn all of this though.

    March 23rd, 2012 7:03 pm Reply
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  • mariana

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    February 10th, 2012 11:05 am Reply
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  • Meagan

    Find a nice farmer and stock up! I wonder if it can freeze??

    November 19th, 2011 11:25 pm Reply
  • michelle

    Thanks for posting this as well everything else you post!

    Looks like now, not only do I need to buy a cow so I can have raw milk but now I need a maple tree so I can get the syrup I want. Ugggg! The government needs to keep their hands out of our food!

    November 18th, 2011 10:52 pm Reply
  • Kristin Konvolinka via Facebook

    Man, this sucks. I don’t know what I like better about grade B, the strong flavor or the cheap price tag!

    November 18th, 2011 5:01 pm Reply
  • Chrystal (@HappyMothering) (@HappyMothering)

    Bye Bye Grade B Maple Syrup – The Healthy Home Economist

    November 18th, 2011 4:39 pm Reply
  • jason and lisa

    i just called my maple farmer and he says that there isnt a difference in the mineral content between the grades.. now im lost.. i always thought grade b was best.. this is local, handmade, kosher and organic syrup.. green mountain maple sugar refining company in belvidere center vermont.. any advice anyone??

    by the way, warming maple on the stove top and melting in chunks of butter is just wonderful..

    -jason and lisa-

    November 18th, 2011 2:08 pm Reply
  • Beth

    This really stinks, and it sounds like it’s a great argument for sourcing your maple syrup from a small, family-run operation. Know your maple farmer.

    November 18th, 2011 11:50 am Reply
  • Ruby

    I think I’ll be making the switch to coconut nectar; Coconut Secret Raw Nectar is really good.

    November 18th, 2011 11:34 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      My husband loves that stuff.

      November 18th, 2011 3:31 pm Reply
  • Judi @ Frugal Frolic

    Never even liked grade A — this is very, very sad. I foresee this causing us to buy even less than the small amount we buy now.

    November 18th, 2011 12:47 am Reply
  • Organic Eater (@OrganicEater)

    “@HealthyHomeEcon: Bye Bye Grade B Maple Syrup – The Healthy Home Economist”
    I never knew!! Thx!!

    November 17th, 2011 8:38 pm Reply
  • Jennifer

    i know this is a silly question, but could I boil grade A, to get grade b??

    Thank you and great post!

    November 17th, 2011 5:02 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      No, that won’t really work as the Grade A has already been boiled. It’s the amount of sap used to make Grade B that is the difference. Making Grade B requires much more sap than Grade A which is why it is more concentrated in nutrients and flavor.

      November 17th, 2011 5:33 pm Reply
      • DSanduril

        What a load all the way around. Point to one credible scientific study that shows Grade B has higher concentrations of nutrients. All maple syrup is 66 degrees Brix. Grade A Fancy takes less sap to get there, and thus far less cooking time than Grade A medium, and so on, down to Grade B. That’s because there is more sugar in the sap that is used for Grade A. Or, in other words, there is more water in the sap that is used for Grade B. Do you seriously believe that the water that dilutes the sugars in the saps that are used for Grade B doesn’t also dilute the nutrients? And, that when you boil the sap down to Grade B and reach the same sugar concentration (66 Brix) that you don’t end up with the same nutrient concentration as well. If anything, since Grade B is more processed (longer boiling times) it probably has fewer of the volatile nutrients. Which is exactly what the science says in testing the various grades. Grade B has a darker color, and sometimes stronger flavor (which means that the boiling did result in heavier ends), but it does not have a significantly greater nutritional profile.

        April 22nd, 2012 9:29 pm Reply
  • My Life in a Pyramid via Facebook

    Very interesting. Just bought some “Grade B” maple syrup yesterday and was wondering why the price was considerably cheaper than the “Grade A” bottles. A farmer at the farmers’ market had told me that Grade B is more nutritious a couple of years ago, and I stuck with buying that from then on. It sucks that they’re changing the system to make it more costly for the good stuff :-/

    November 17th, 2011 3:58 pm Reply
  • My Life in a Pyramid via Facebook

    Very interesting. Just bought some “Grade B” maple syrup yesterday and was wondering why the price was considerably cheaper than the “Grade A” bottles. A farmer at the farmers’ market had told me that Grade B is more nutritious a couple of years ago, and I stuck with buying that from then on. It sucks that they’re changing the system to make it more costly for the good stuff :-/

    November 17th, 2011 3:58 pm Reply

    Thank you! You always keep me on the up and up! We have been buying Grade B forever. This is so sad to see. I am also worried that the syrups labelled “dark” will be manipulated somehow, making it hard to discern if you are buying a true grade B or a grade A with dyes or something. How would we know? ;(


    November 17th, 2011 3:28 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      I’m really hoping that we can still get Grade B by buying bottles labeled “very dark”. Only time will tell. Best to buy direct from a maple farmer.

      November 17th, 2011 5:34 pm Reply
  • Heather

    I didn’t know there was a difference in price in the US due to “no” current law. In northern Ontario (Canada), it’s all the same price (ie. expensive!). We live in the US but always buy our syrup when we go back to Canada. Honestly, I would see cheaper syrup prices here (MI and WI) from time to time but have always questioned the quality to see the price less than the “going rate” in Canada. We always buy dark … will have to look to buy some here before the rate hike — now that I know it is lack of a law and not quality (hopefully) allowing for a lower price.

    November 17th, 2011 12:57 am Reply
  • Well Fed Family via Facebook

    funny, we just noticed that our local health food store charges about 50cents more for grade B than for grade A. Maybe they got the memo a little early

    November 16th, 2011 11:40 pm Reply
  • Michelle Stahnke via Facebook


    November 16th, 2011 10:42 pm Reply
  • Karen Stoneking via Facebook

    I have not been able to find grade B in my area. It would be nice to stock up, but I don’t know where to find it.

    November 16th, 2011 10:27 pm Reply
  • D.

    This may have been asked already but I don’t have time to read through all the posts, so here goes. The maple syrup laws in Canada may be different than here in the US, so maybe if you find a Canadian source you can still get the original grade B? It may cost a bit more for shipping, but might be worth it for a quality product. Guess it wouldn’t hurt to check. I have an uncle who is a Quebecois, so I might ask him to check the law and see if Canada will be having the same restrictions.

    November 16th, 2011 9:53 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      The changes are international so it affects Canada too.

      November 16th, 2011 10:06 pm Reply
  • Brandy Vencel (@BrandyVencel)

    Oh no! Grade B is my fave! Bye Bye Grade B Maple Syrup –

    November 16th, 2011 8:35 pm Reply
  • Roxanne Bell (@RoxanneBDesigns) (@RoxanneBDesigns)

    Bye Bye Grade B Maple Syrup – The Healthy Home Economist

    November 16th, 2011 7:12 pm Reply
  • Eat Nourishing via Facebook

    I understand why they are making this move from a marketing perspective, but it’s still a bummer. Sharing this! Thanks for the heads up, Sarah!

    November 16th, 2011 6:54 pm Reply
  • Sam

    Grade B is the same price as Grade A for us, though I much prefer Grade B’s flavor. I do need to buy some more though!

    November 16th, 2011 6:39 pm Reply
  • Pavil, the Uber Noob

    We will need to stay up-to-date on product recommendations. The silver lining is that these obfuscation of products provides an opportunity for enterprises like WAPF to certify products under its own seal. I would trust a WAPF seal before I trusted any government or trade group seal of approval.

    Ciao, Pavil

    November 16th, 2011 6:24 pm Reply
  • MommySetFree (Pamela)

    We are die- hard B users, this is very interesting to learn.

    November 16th, 2011 4:40 pm Reply
  • Emily @ Butter Believer

    Ugh!! Now that the “Grade A” label will be totally meaningless (since there’s only one grade!) this just becomes yet another ploy by the food industry to trick us into thinking a product is superior by deceptive labeling. Just like “raw” cheese (that isn’t), “hormone-free” CAFO meat (hormones are illegal in all meat), “all natural” HFCS… I could go on and on….

    November 16th, 2011 4:33 pm Reply
  • Lynne

    Please note the part about the international standards coming to bear on this – this is Agenda 21 hitting us. Same for the animal ID scheme – they are putting a 15 digit ISO number on each animal. We are being drug into an international community and our national sovereignty is being done away with…as are our independent freedoms, rights and liberties (such as the right to own private property). The food “safety” bill that was passed into law during the lame duck session last fall (passed unanimous in the Senate the second time around) gives control of ALL food to the head of the FDA and international guidelines are being implemented. Welcome to the Borg…it’s called the One World Government.

    November 16th, 2011 4:20 pm Reply
  • Shari Bambino (@TheShariBambino)

    Bye Bye Grade B Maple Syrup – The Healthy Home Economist

    November 16th, 2011 3:53 pm Reply
  • Minda Stiles via Facebook

    Good to know. Tell mom!

    November 16th, 2011 3:25 pm Reply
  • Stanley Fishman

    The food industry wants all food to be the same. They do not want anyone to have an alternative to the inferior products they produce. This move to treat all maple syrup as one grade is just another move in this direction.

    November 16th, 2011 3:18 pm Reply
  • Sunny Day via Facebook

    couldn’t afford it before…. sure can’t now.

    November 16th, 2011 2:57 pm Reply
  • Stephanie

    Wow I never understood the “grading” of maple syrups so thanks for the info! I checked my fridge and thankfully I had bought Coombs Family Farms organic maple syrup (grade B)! Yeah!

    November 16th, 2011 1:41 pm Reply
  • Green Earth, Green Home via Facebook

    Oh wow we have always bought grade B.

    November 16th, 2011 2:28 pm Reply
  • Maretta Stiles via Facebook

    Already about the same price as grade A dark around here (grade B tastes burned to me). Any thoughts on whether it’s important to buy organic maple syrup? Or if it’s one of the few items I don’t need to worry about as much?

    November 16th, 2011 2:21 pm Reply
    • Lauren

      I doubt organic is an issue, since it’s not a spray crop. You’d have to check, but I’d also be surprised if there were chemicals used for filtration. No other inpacts of organic designation seem to apply – but if someone knows for sure, I’d be interested to learn more!

      November 16th, 2011 4:50 pm Reply
  • Summer Ahrens via Facebook

    You are supposed to keep opened maple syrup in fridge? Oops

    November 16th, 2011 2:18 pm Reply
    • D.

      I don’t keep mine in the fridge and have never had a problem. Cool dark place, yes, but never the fridge.

      November 16th, 2011 10:06 pm Reply
  • Donna Mathesius Tapp via Facebook

    I remember a few years ago you could get a jug of syrup for around 6 bucks and now it is near $20! in my neck of the woods. I wish healthy foods and healthier alternatives weren’t so expensive says this mama of a larger family. sigh!

    November 16th, 2011 2:14 pm Reply
  • Barbara Torrey Centofante via Facebook

    How long does maple syrup keep?
    *Unopened containers will keep for a minimum of 3 years. Store in a dark, cool place.
    *Opened containers must be kept in the refrigerator and will keep up to 1 year.

    November 16th, 2011 2:07 pm Reply
    • Cindy (Clee)

      Thank you!

      November 16th, 2011 10:10 pm Reply
  • jason and lisa

    Am I misunderstanding?? The now grade b syrup will still be there, it will just be called something different?? If that is the case, it wouldnt be all that bad as long as there were no added colors or dyes to alter the syrups color.. Wouldnt the extra dark be the grade b??

    -Jason and Lisa-

    November 16th, 2011 2:04 pm Reply
    • Rebecca

      except that she’s saying that it will COST more… like light and dark colors will have the same price, whereas now the grade B is significantly cheaper. and they’re certainly not going to DROP the price of the popular light colored syrup, duh.
      what makes you think they won’t add “natural dyes”… with changes like this, you invite unscrupulous companies to start adding colors instead of having mineral rich syrup.

      November 16th, 2011 5:42 pm Reply
      • jason and lisa


        November 18th, 2011 11:51 am Reply
  • Laurel Blair, NTP (@Dynamic_Balance) (@Dynamic_Balance)

    Bye Bye Grade B Maple Syrup – The Healthy Home Economist

    November 16th, 2011 1:51 pm Reply
  • Mike Lieberman

    Thanks for sharing. Wonder what the real underlying issue here is. Will definitely have to stock up on Grade B syrup.

    November 16th, 2011 1:46 pm Reply
  • ladyscott

    Thankfully, I get my syrup from my brother who makes it as a hobby.

    November 16th, 2011 1:39 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Lucky you!

      November 16th, 2011 2:04 pm Reply
  • Matt

    At least we still get a break on blackstrap molasses!

    November 16th, 2011 1:37 pm Reply
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  • Brandi Monson via Facebook


    November 16th, 2011 1:26 pm Reply
  • Theresa

    Where can you buy grade B? I never even heard of it before this article?

    November 16th, 2011 1:23 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Supermarkets don’t carry it … healthfood stores have it but it is insanely expensive there. Try to find a buying club in your area for more reasonable prices direct from the farm.

      November 16th, 2011 1:36 pm Reply
    • anna

      I buy it at Trader Joes

      November 16th, 2011 10:34 pm Reply
  • Mendy Cleveland via Facebook

    UGGG!!! Why do they always have to screw up a good thing?!!

    November 16th, 2011 1:22 pm Reply
  • Jami @ Eat Nourishing

    Thanks for the heads up, Sarah! I can understand this labeling move from a marketing perspective. Golden, Amber, Dark, and Very Dark sound like options, whereas Grade B does imply an inferior, less quality product. I will take your advice and load up on as much as I can before the inevitable price hike.

    November 16th, 2011 1:22 pm Reply
  • Rachel Cobb-Chamness via Facebook


    November 16th, 2011 1:20 pm Reply
  • Beth Ross Houston via Facebook

    How long can you store this for? I have a great co-op in my area and by it in bulk but it is actually just as expensive due to the nature of the store! Mostly organic ….so the shoppers want the Grade B!

    November 16th, 2011 1:19 pm Reply
  • Annia Cieslewicz Tupin via Facebook

    Go Figure!! We just started buying grade B….this is ridiculous

    November 16th, 2011 1:16 pm Reply
  • Heather

    How can there be a Grade A if there is no Grade B?

    Crud. I’m not in a position to stock up at this moment so hopefully the supply won’t dry up too quickly. I don’t mind paying more for better quality, though I did like paying less for better quality.

    I wonder if manufacturers will label the formerly Grade B as “late season”?

    November 16th, 2011 12:35 pm Reply
    • Janelle

      the Grade B will now either be labeled dark or very dark, all maple syrup will be Grade A so their is no price differentiation. This is what is stated in the article.

      November 16th, 2011 1:17 pm Reply
      • Heather

        I get that. The point is there is no point in a “Grade” if there is only one allowed on the label. Also, the coloring of the syrup won’t mean much given that inferior syrup can be manipulated to be darker. I already see plenty of Grade A dark or very dark on the shelves and it certainly is not the same quality as Grade B. A “late season” or other indication on the label would allow consumers to make informed decisions, even if the move now means that it will cost me more than it does now.

        November 16th, 2011 4:23 pm Reply
  • Joel Sims (@joelmichaelsims) (@joelmichaelsims)

    Stock up on Grade B maple syrup! –

    November 16th, 2011 12:26 pm Reply
  • Jen

    My initial thought is to talk to our preferred brands and encourage them to keep making their products the way they are. Color is not a standard as so much JUNK can be added to make color. We need some way to verify quality.

    November 16th, 2011 11:56 am Reply
  • Pam M

    This is good to know. How long does Grade B Maple syrup last?

    November 16th, 2011 11:42 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Years. I’ve never had any go bad. The dark stuff starts to get a bit bubbly after awhile which makes it even more awesome!

      November 16th, 2011 11:44 am Reply
  • Allison

    I wonder if this will also change with small, local ‘back yard’ farmer’s that produce it to sell locally at the roadside/farmers markets etc?

    November 16th, 2011 11:41 am Reply
  • HealthyHomeEconomist (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon)

    Bye Bye Grade B Maple Syrup – The Healthy Home Economist

    November 16th, 2011 11:37 am Reply
    • Kristina

      what is the color that will be grade b? Dark? Very Dark?

      November 17th, 2011 6:35 pm Reply
      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        I don’t know. Going for the darkest one seems to be the best bet.

        November 17th, 2011 6:37 pm Reply

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