Maple Syrup: Kitchen Basics

Maple syrup light to dark grades

Maple syrup light to dark grades

Use maple syrup as a replacement for sugar or as a flavoring for desserts such as pies, soufflés, mousses, and cakes. When you use maple syrup to replace sugar, reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by approximately a half a cup for every cup of syrup used.

You know maple syrup as a topping for pancakes and waffles, but you can also use it to improve the flavor of pancake and waffle batter—just add a tablespoon of syrup to the batter.

Use maple syrup as a glaze for cooked vegetables such as carrots and beets and for meats such as ham and ribs.

Serve: Serve maple syrup at room temperature so that it does not prematurely cool the food. But you should know that maple syrup at room temperature may lose some of its flavor.

Maple syrup contains iron, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. It contains fewer calories that an equivalent amount of honey.

Store: Once you open maple syrup transfer it to a glass jar and refrigerate. Maple syrup stored in in glass containers will maintain flavor better than when stored in plastic or metal. Maple syrup will keep indefinitely in the freezer; it will thicken in the freezer, but is not likely to freeze solid.

Grades of Maple Syrup: Maple syrup is commonly, but not always, graded by color and flavor intensity. The two most common grades of maple syrup are A and B.

  • Grade A is made from the earliest run of maple sap; it is light in color and delicate in flavor. Use Grade A maple syrup as a topping for pancakes and waffles.
  • Grade B syrup is darker and has a more concentrated flavor; use grade B maple syrup for cooking.

Here are common maple syrup gradings:

  • AA or fancy: light amber colored, mild flavor.
  • A: Medium amber color, mellow flavor.
  • B: Dark amber color, hearty flavor.
  • C: Very dark color molasses-like flavor.
  • Maple flavored syrup: this is almost wholly corn syrup and may not contain any maple syrup; it is imitation maple syrup.

Vermont maple syrup is graded by color not thickness; here are Vermont maple syrup gradings:

  • Fancy: light amber.
  • Medium amber: Stronger maple flavor.
  • Dark amber: Strongest flavored, best for cooking.


Where maple syrup comes from:

Maple syrup is made by reducing the sap of certain species of maple trees (the sugar maple, Acer saccharum, the red maple, Acer rubrum, and the black maple, Acer nigrum. These trees are found only in North America, mainly Quebec, New York, and Vermont.

Sap is collected at the end of winter between January and April, when the days are warm enough to melt snow but the nights are cold enough to prevent the trees from budding. (Warm days and freezing nights helps increase the flow of sap.)The sap is collected by cutting slits in the trees when the sap starts to rise; the sap is then concentrated or condensed to make syrup.