Maple syrup doesn't get that rich flavor and color 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, reports the AP. The new machine can remove more water from sap, leaving a higher sugar content in half the time and energy it takes to heat 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 center produced its first batch of syrup with a new machine last week. "It definitely processed syrup very, very fast." Most large maple operations already use 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 a traditional New England cottage industry, so some maple sugarers are wondering if faster is actually better. "We're questioning it," says the president of the North American Maple Syrup Council. "We're looking to see that we're doing the right thing." Perkins said the flavor of the syrup produced with the new machine is acceptable as the center continues to experiment. Parker Family Maple Farm, in West Chazee, NY, expects a new machine on Wednesday to double its production. "We're anticipating making 300 gallons of syrup an hour," Michael Parker said. Dozens of producers in Vermont, New York, Maine, and Wisconsin are now using the machines. It's an investment of tens of thousands of dollars; Industry officials say the cost is about 15% to 20% higher than 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." (This might be the greatest food crime in history.)