Grade B, Grade A... have you ever been confused by maple syrup labeling? Grade "A" sounds like a higher-quality product but this is misleading; personally, I prefer Grade B, which is just as pure but darker and more robust in flavor.
Well, things are about to get less confusing. Vermont is changing their maple syrup labeling, so say goodbye to Grade B.
But don't worry, dark syrup lovers — it's just branding. Grade B is going away, but the syrup is staying just as it is, albeit with a new name.
Vermont produces about half of the maple syrup made in the United States, but its production capacity is far outstripped by our neighbor to the north, Canada, and specifically Quebec. Canada produces about six and a half million gallons of syrup a year, and 6.3 million of that comes from Quebec. Vermont, on the other hand, produced about 1.3 million gallons in 2013, which was about half of the U.S. production.
Vermont's labeling, however, has been different from the Canadian labeling system, and so earlier this year, lawmakers in Vermont voted to bring it more into line with what is becoming an international standard. They hope this will help Vermont maple syrup compete in markets where consumers are used to the different labeling.
Now, all maple syrup will be Grade A, and the differences in color and taste will be noted by descriptors like "Golden/Delicate Taste."
This will be phased in over three years, so don't expect your Grade B syrup bottles to disappear immediately from the grocery store shelves. But do begin to look for "Very Dark/Strong Taste" maple syrup this winter — at least if you, like me, love the dark stuff.
More About the Maple Syrup Change
How much maple syrup do you eat? And what sort do you usually buy?
(Image credits: Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association; Henk Jacobs/Shutterstock)