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With Pure Organic Maple Syrup, Grade B Is Better Than Grade A

Updated on March 23, 2011

Maple syrup grades

I've loved maple syrup since I was a little kid. I used to help my dad as we went around the local area tapping trees and collecting the big buckets of sap that came out of them. We cooked it up in a shack with a stove that was made using old metal barrels. This was not the sophisticated system you see now with trees connected to an elaborate pipeline feeding into a central sap cooking location.

Maple syrup is graded on a letter scale, but like with other foods it can be a bit confusing. This isn't quite like when you were in school and "A" means excellent while "B" means slightly better than average. Grades are based on what number "run" the maple syrup is from. Grade A is first run, and is usually distinguished by a mild taste and few minerals, although plenty of sweetness. If you are cooking with maple syrup, I would recommend using Grade A. Grade B has more minerals and is thus more nutritious. It also has more of that distinct maple flavor.

While I'm on the topic of maple flavor, I think I should comment on the state of the artificial maple syrup market. It stinks. I don't know how long these artificial syrups have been around, but it's a long time and they still aren't even close to copying the taste of real maple syrup. They are so far off they shouldn't even be allowed to called it imitation maple syrup. I bet the bottom of my foot has about as much relation to the flavor of real maple syrup as Mrs. Butterworth.

Those of you lucky enough to live in Canada or the Northeastern United States can probably drive 10 to 20 miles and find a place selling pure organic maple syrup every spring. For the rest of us, we can buy it at a huge premium at the grocery store or at a place like Whole Foods, or better yet you can find it online for a reasonable price. They sell 32 ounce jugs of Coombs Family Farms Maple Syrup on Amazon for under $25. That jug should last a reasonable amount of time. It's not quite the same as the glass Bell jar filled with fresh maple syrup my dad gives me for my birthday every year (he knows I love the stuff on my oatmeal), but at least it's the real deal. 

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