Fall is (almost) officially here and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Familiar seasonal scents of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg will soon fill the air as crisp vibrant leaves crunch underfoot.

A truly autumnal ingredient, and one we will be featuring in our specially curated gift sets, is maple syrup. Today, we are exploring maple syrup grades: how they work and which one, if any, is the best.

Maple syrup is graded based on its density and translucency, falling into one of five different categories: Grade A Light Amber, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber, Grade B and Commercial Grade.

photo by flickr user lacylouwho

The perceived hierarchy between Grade A and Grade B is false, it is simply a matter of preference, much like that of beer or wine varieties. Grade A is typically harvested toward the beginning of the season (the converted sugar in maple trees rises in the sap in the spring), and ranges from delicate to full-bodied flavor. Grade B is robust with rich undertones of caramel, making it ideal for cooking and baking.

Whichever your grade preference, if you are one of our northeastern neighbors take advantage of locally-produced maple syrup and it is sure to be delicious. Happy fall!