Science Has A New, Cheaper And Spectacularly Creepy Method Of Making Maple Syrup

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I spent much of my teenage years in the state of Vermont, and as such, I have an appreciation for real maple syrup, and a deep contempt of the flavored sugar sludge that so often passes itself off as maple syrup. That said, the real stuff is expensive, thanks to how it’s made. But leave it to science to come up with a new method that’s not just more effective, but really pretty creepy!

Scientist? Or Vampire?

Here’s how it works: Maple syrup is made by boiling off maple tree sap. The sweet stuff flows down from the crown of a mature tree into a bucket. This, plus the labor intensive boiling process, limits supply.

But in maple saplings, the sweet sap flows upwards, out of the roots. So, to get a lot more sap for syrup, all you have to do is… uh… cut the top off the sapling, stick a vacuum over that, and suck out all the syrup.

Look, didn’t we say it was creepy? It’s right there in the headline.

Syrupy Shenanigans

This is good for maple syrup producers because, well, it’s a lot cheaper to plant a bunch of saplings and go vampire on them, and saplings aren’t generally attacked by common maple pests. So basically, it would change the maple syrup industry as we know it, and make getting actual syrup a heck of a lot cheaper, if you can get past that whole “beheading baby trees and sucking out their blood” thing.

I Am All That Is Man

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You won’t see “Creepy Syrup” on the shelves right away: The industry is still arguing about how this should be labeled and mitigating the effects on smaller syrup producers. But either way, expect a lot more of the good stuff to be coming to shelves, and soon. Also expect hipsters to scorn it in favor of the old-fashioned way.

Dan Seitz

Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.

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One Comment

  1. The crown removal method of gathering sap is not necessarily more effective – the saplings produce very little sap compared to a larger tree – but they also take up very little space.

    The sapling method they estimate will have roughly the same production costs as the current methods but it will require less land and take less time to develop the resource. A mature maple stand can take 30 to 40 years before it can be used in maple syrup production, but a plantation of maple saplings could take much less time.

    There is a lot more labor involved in cutting and capping tons of sapplings than thrre is in dealing with mature trees. Plus the process is still at the mercy of the weather, so in years like this year you might be at a bit disadvantage with a plantation since you have higher fixed costs but a lower return.

    The devices necessary to actually harvest the sap this way are also not going to be available for a couple of years.

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