I'm glad they are making the change to better labeling. As I've gotten older I've gotten more particular about quality of food. Which partly means finding food hacks. Like buying goji berries in Chinatown rather than whole foods or grade b maple syrup. There are a ton of these hacks out there and if you care enough to find them, you'll enjoy food more. I'd recommend "cooking for geeks" by Jeff potter. I think that's where I learned about grade b syrup.
But just to sanity check so I don't get my supply cut off: the 2013 international standard is relabeling Grade B as "Dark" and "Very Dark", yes?
G11 - Gou Qi Zi (high)
No artificial splitting over pages, links to offsite sources instead of only linking in-site, real links, no "click here" in the link text.
I'm not sure the article is correct. It's common for people to say Grade B has more flavor. But is more flavor better flavor? I usually like very strong flavors, like Double IPAs, but does that mean IPAs are better than more subtly flavored Belgian Ales? I've been under the impression that Grade B has more flavor, but not better flavor. That Grade A has a less over-powering, cleaner flavor.
I haven't done a taste test, but it would be fun to line up shot glasses of different Grade A and B to test. Mmm, like beer tasting but with maple syrup. Other than the flavor thing, the article was very interesting.
Grade A is not more subtle; it is merely more neutrally sweet (i.e., has less flavor.)
The article gave me the impression that Grade A was from early in the season, and it is boiled less. Later in the season the sap has less sugar naturally so it is boiled more to concentrate the sugar, which also concentrates the other flavors. That later season sap makes Grade B. Is that the case? In that way grading makes sense, Grade A being more naturally pure, but knowing that it is only based on color throws out the whole point to me. I definitely have had maple syrup I felt had too harsh a flavor, maybe it was Grade B as I'm used to Grade A.
Generally speaking, you boil until you reach the right viscosity (specific gravity), which is tied to the sugar content. I used to count on boiling 40 gallons of sap to get one gallon of syrup, but this can vary a bit.
The new labeling system makes sense: Grade B should really be something like Grade A Dark. Sadly, this means I'll have to pay more for the good stuff.
I can't ever remember us eating it though (it was sold to GF a long time ago and no longer bears the family name).
during the flow the sap picks up the maple taste from other bits of stuff in the tree - grade b is actually the first sap produced in the season and has the most of this 'stuff'. As the season goes on theres less and less of this stuff so then you start making grade a and fancy.
You can find it at any organic/health shop.
If you can't wait, here is a non-affiliated Amazon link:
The story seems to suggest that the milder (diluted or perhaps similar to diluted alternatives?) product would have been disfavored by the regime set up by the Pure Food and Drug Act, and thus assigned a lower 'grade'. But somehow the clearer/milder syrup got the higher 'grade'. Why? And what 'evolution' of "our sense of American identity" has outraced the labeling? (Was the Grade-A/Grade-B labeling ever aligned with preferences? Do people only now like the darker syrup more, and if so, when did that preference change?)
I don't mind the story, but the opening paragraph poses questions and promises answers that aren't delivered.
Maple syrup was originally a locally grown (American) sugar substitute. As such, what was valued was a neutral flavor, i.e., something that tasted as little like maple as possible, and as much like sweet liquid. Thus, Grade A (and Grade A Fancy, etc.) went to the lightest, mildest syrup, and Grade B (and Grade C, which is for industrial use) went to the darker syrup with a stronger maple flavor.
(As an aside: the grading is done by color. There is a small kit producers buy which has small samples of colored liquid for each grade, and the grade is assigned based on which liquid your syrup's color matches most closely.)
The change in preferences came when cane sugar became a cheaper commodity; there was no longer any reason to use maple syrup (or maple sugar) if you weren't looking for the maple flavor.
I used to make my own maple syrup, back when I lived in the US-- it was a lot of work, but a lot of fun.
(The article talked about how people always craved the maple flavor, and were concerned about milder plain-sugar substitutes, as its lead-in to the 'truth in labeling'/authenticity-crusade era. That seemed to suggest tht even in 1906, an opposite grading emphasizing 'mapleness' could have taken root. Perhaps the regulators simply made the mistake of using the word 'grade' – implying a quality rank – when really their assessment was only of categories without any inherent preference ordering.)
It can be found at some american chains where they serve northamerican-style pancakes, but in that case it's 99% sugar+colouring+flavouring.
As for maples, there are plenty all over the world, but the cultivar from which they make syrup is in fact northamerican, those we have in the old continent would not be good for syrup extraction AFAICT
Jealous of American Maple Syrup? Blasphemy! :|
Trader Joes sells B in wine bottles that do the job well.
Oh, got it here: buy grade B syrup - forget grade A:
"So if you happen to relish the taste of maple syrup, you may want to find a bottle of Grade B while you still can. Once the inferior grade is removed from the label, the rarest, most flavorful syrup will likely command at least as dear a price as its blander and more abundant cousins."
The title "Why the cheapest maple syrup is the best" asks a question and the article refuses to answer it quickly. I ddn't miss the point - I merely took the title at face value.
I still don't know any more than I did before about the history of maple syrup and that's good - less of my mind wasted on irrelevant information. But I _do_ know that grade B tastes better - something infinitely more useful. And I don't need the history as a referent, since the syrups themselves are the referents (though I shall be loathe to buy any grade A as a referent - perhaps you can do that and we shall taste).
The article was a poor example of bait-and-switch journalism.
I don't know why fools bother to downvote someone because he finds a meandering plotless plodding article to be uninteresting!
And come on, get used to headlines. If it asks a question that can be answered in a sentence or two and yet there is a full article attached you shouldn't get confused. It's not bait-and-switch; the entire article is about the syrup.