Choose Your Lesson

YES! Well.. maybe. If you know the farmer personally and have toured their sugar house and have seen how clean it is and what equipment is being used then they would probably pass organic certification. If you haven’t been to the sugar house, though, here are some major differences regulated by Organic Maple Syrup Certification that you can be sure are being followed for the Organic syrup you’re purchasing.


Old sugaring equipment such as buckets, tanks and arches contained lead solder. Organic equipment must be stainless steel and all syrup is tested for lead.


All syrup foams while it is boiling. Organic maple syrup may only use kosher certified organic defoamer such as organic canola oil. Forbidden defoamers include chemical defoamers, lard, bacon, milk and butter. Organic maple syrup will not be contaminated with these allergens.


Tapping a tree must be done sustainably. Organic regulations limit the size of the tap, the number of taps per tree, the frequency of tapping, and the re-drilling of taps so that a tree can continue to produce sap for decades. Over tapped trees are strained, do not show growth, and often die within a few years. Organic maple syrup is harvested from trees which will continue to produce syrup for many decades.


Organic sugar bushes must have a selection of different tree species in the woods for diversity in habitat. This works as a barrier against invasive diseases or pests, as provides great habitat for a larger number of species in the woods.


Maple trees are not considered organic if they are within buffer zones of chemical being used in places such as tree farms, residential lawn care or agricultural fields.


Only food safe chemical cleaners are approved for use in an organic maple sugar house.


Organic sugar houses are inspected annually to ensure cleanliness, both in the woods and in the sugar house. Old tubing or equipment must be disposed of properly, and the property must remain clean and sanitary.

Grading Maple Syrup

Pure Vermont Maple Syrup must meet strict quality standards and is graded on four characteristics: color, clarity, density, and flavor.

  • Maple syrup is measured by hydrometer or refractometer to ensure that the density, or measure of sugar content, is within a narrow band of 66.9° and 68.9° Brix. This is important to keep maple syrup shelf-stable and to prevent sugar crystallization within the liquid syrup.
  • To be sold at retail, all Vermont syrup must be clear, meaning there is not excessive mineral haze, a naturally-occurring outcome due to maple syrup’s mineral content.
  • Maple syrup is then classified into four distinct color classes: Golden, Amber, Dark, and Very Dark.
  • Finally, all syrup is taste-tested to ensure that the flavor meets expectations for maple syrup’s characteristic deliciousness.

Golden Color with Delicate Flavor 


Usually made at the beginning of the new maple season, this syrup was known once graded as Fancy. Subtle maple flavor is best appreciated when used on pancakes or waffles or paired with rich dairy items like yogurt or vanilla ice cream.  Try it over Greek yogurt or for a simple but elegant dessert, simply pour this grade of Vermont syrup over vanilla ice cream. 

Amber Color with Rich Flavor

Usually made about mid-season and often seems to be the most popular for all-around use. Full of characteristic maple flavor, this syrup is equally as good over waffles as it is in salad dressings, cocktails, or in a maple-sweetened barbecue sauce. If you’re only going to have one grade of Vermont maple syrup in your kitchen, make it Amber Color with Rich Flavor.

Dark Color with Robust Flavor

As the maple season progresses, the syrup darkens in color and develops a more robust maple flavor. Good for all around use, its hearty flavor is a great choice for all kinds of recipes. Pour over baked apples or squash, use as a glaze for meats and vegetables, or sweeten baked goods. This grade pairs well with smoky and spicy flavors like chipotle peppers, sriracha, or bourbon.

Very Dark Color with Strong Flavor

Produced at the end of the season, it’s perfect for cooking and baking. When you need a strong maple flavor in a bread or cookie, ice cream, or barbecue sauce, this is the grade of choice. 

The New vs. Old Grading Systems

maple syrup grades

Did you know maple syrup contains an abundant amount of naturally occurring minerals such as calcium, manganese, potassium and magnesium? And like broccoli and bananas, it’s a natural source of beneficial antioxidants.

Antioxidants have been shown to help prevent cancer, support the immune system, lower blood pressure and slow the effects of aging. Maple syrup is also a better source of some nutrients than apples, eggs or bread. It’s more nutritious than all other common sweeteners, contains one of the lowest calorie levels, and has been shown to have healthy glycemic qualities.

Maple syrup was the original natural sweetener. Native Peoples in North America were the first to recognize 100% pure maple syrup as a source of nutrition and energy. Since then, researchers have been documenting that maple syrup has a higher nutritional value than all other common sweeteners. In addition, researchers have found that pure maple syrup contains numerous phenolic compounds, commonly found in plants and in agricultural products such as blueberries, tea, red wine and flax-seed. Some of these compounds may benefit human health in significant ways.

So go ahead and satisfy that sweet tooth with something that not only tastes great…but is naturally good FOR you!



maple syrup nutrition

Maple syrup is a very durable product. It is similar to honey and will last almost infinitely when properly stored.

Always refrigerate after opening.

To preserve maple’s fresh flavor and prevent crystallization, it can be frozen. Freeze and thaw any number of times, just thaw completely, mixing in any condensation on the top before use.

If crystallization does occur, add a splash of water and reheat syrup to melt.

If mold occurs because your refrigerator quits working, boil and filter the syrup and it will still be safe to eat.