Thursday, April 5, 2007

Grade B maple syrup

Maple syrup is one of my favorite ways to sweeten things (honey being the other), because it isn't just sweet--it actually has flavor. And because I like the flavor, I want my maple syrup to be really maple-y. This is why I prefer Grade B maple syrup.

Grade A maple syrup, as I'm sure you're now wondering, is the commonest, most widely available type of maple syrup. It can range in maple flavor from quite delicate to somewhat robust. The more robust versions are usually labeled "amber," though this is a label designation that you will only find in high-end markets or if you visit a sugarhouse (the place where they boil down maple sap to make the syrup).

On a side note, visiting a maple sugarhouse during the "sugaring off" season is a lot of fun. The normal maple season lasts 4 to 6 weeks, sometimes starting as early as February and lasting into late April, depending on the specific area. Vermont is perhaps the best known maple-syrup producing region in this country, but the rest of New England, New York State and the Great Lakes states also produce maple syrup.

But back to Grade B maple syrup. This is the strongest and darkest "table grade" of maple syrup. I use it for everything, but it is generally regarded as the best option if you're baking, because the maple flavor will really punch through. There are a lot of places online that sell maple syrup, but not necessarily Grade B. Here's one place I found that does sell it in case you want to give it a try: Carmen Brook Maple & Dairy Farm.

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