Boiling down maple syrup is a (yawn) long, long process; reverse osmosis can help
Posted by David Brooks | Monday, March 11, 2013
I helped some friends boil down syrup yesterday - started at 8 a.m. (sap was already collected) and we finished at midnight ... and we didn't even finish! We made almost 5 gallons of syrup and have about 4 more gallons to finish in the final boil, which shouldn't take too long.
Three people times 14 hours for about 9 gallons - not including the time spent gathering sap. No wonder syrup is so expensive!
Sap is, on average, 97,5% water; it takes so long because you have to boil that water off without burning the sugar. It's a very energy-intensive operation; we burned close to a cord of softwood just yesterday.
There is a push to get more large maple-suryup operations to use reverse osmosis, which strains out at least half the water from sap before boiling starts, to reduce the pollution and wood usage. They're expensive ($5,000 and up), so the feds are helping pay for some of them. Here's a press release from 2011 about it.