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Maple sugar season straddles six weeks in sugaring states when winter turns to spring. The business supplies ample food for thought.
Harvest traditions evoke homey scenes: the crusty New Englander ... rock-ribbed, spare, silent ... tending his maple woods by one-horse sled. The sap is gathered by the pailful and hauled in vats to the sugar house, where steam rises from the maple sap boiling pans.
Practiced eyes keep watch as the water boils off to turn some 40 gallons of sap into one gallon of the golden brown syrup. Fresh sap is up to 98% water.
To sell to wider markets, the business has a few new twists.
What has grown most is the extent of maple trade, not the annual production. The steps in producing and processing sap are the same as before. And the same as were learned from the Indians ages before that.
Markets now are more diverse, which requires more knowledge and specification of the steps. Technology has evolved, but not the scale of technology.
Collection methods have progressed from catching drips in a pail to pulling sap with high-vacuum to tanks through networks of plastic tubing. More sap is collected with less tending.
Water removal designs have added reverse osmosis and heat recovery schemes. Water is removed using less fuel.
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