Im­proved tech­nol­ogy saves maple syrup pro­duc­ers time, en­ergy


Maple syrup doesn’t get that rich flavour and colour in an in­stant. It’s a long process from tree to bot­tle.

But an im­proved tech­nol­ogy could keep maple sug­ar­ers from work­ing late into the night boil­ing sap into syrup.

The new ma­chine re­moves more wa­ter from sap, leav­ing it with higher su­gar con­tent. The con­cen­trated sap takes half the time to boil into syrup.

“For com­mer­cial maple pro­duc­ers, time is money and en­ergy is money. It all comes down to how ef­fi­cient you can be to make syrup, and this is just the next big step to save time,” said Tim­o­thy Perkins, di­rec­tor of the Univer­sity of Ver­mont’s Proc­tor Maple Re­search Cen­ter.

The cen­tre pro­duced its first batch of syrup with a new ma­chine last week. “It def­i­nitely pro­cessed syrup very, very fast,” Perkins said.

Most large maple op­er­a­tions al­ready use the tra­di­tional re­verse os­mo­sis sys­tems that have a mem­brane that sep­a­rate wa­ter from su­gar. The new re­verse os­mo­sis tech­nol­ogy re­moves even more wa­ter.

Pro­duc­ing maple syrup is an old New Eng­land cot­tage in­dus­try based on tra­di­tion, so some maple sug­ar­ers are won­der­ing if faster is ac­tu­ally bet­ter. They worry it could im­pact the qual­ity.

“We’re ques­tion­ing it,” said Eric Randall, pres­i­dent of the North Amer­i­can Maple Syrup Coun­cil. “We’re look­ing to see that we’re do­ing the right thing.”

Perkins said the flavour of the syrup pro­duced with the new ma­chine is so far ac­cept­able as the cen­tre con­tin­ues to re­search the tech­nol­ogy.

Parker Fam­ily Maple Farm, in West Chazee, New York, ex­pects a new ma­chine to ar­rive Wed­nes­day that may dou­ble its syrup pro­duc­tion. “We’re an­tic­i­pat­ing mak­ing 300 gal­lons of syrup an hour” with the new ma­chine, Michael Parker said.

Dozens of pro­duc­ers in Ver­mont, New York, Maine and Wis­con­sin are now us­ing the ma­chines, which are made by a hand­ful of com­pa­nies. It’s an

in­vest­ment of tens of thou­sands of dol­lars de­pend­ing on the size of the maple op­er­a­tion and how much equip­ment is needed. In­dus­try

of­fi­cials say the cost is about 15 to 20 per cent higher than the cost of the cur­rent tech­nol­ogy.

Parker said the time sav­ings will be wel­come. “There’s only so many hours in a day and we’re us­ing all of them,” he said.

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In this Feb. 21, 2017, photo, Eric Miller, U.S. sales man­ager for Lapierre Equip­ment, checks a newly in­stalled ma­chine at the Univer­sity of Ver­mont’s Proc­tor Maple Re­search Cen­ter in Un­der­hill, Vt. The equip­ment re­moves more wa­ter from sap than older tech­nol­ogy, sav­ing maple syrup pro­duc­ers time and en­ergy boil­ing sap into syrup.

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