Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Maple Sucker

Last night we were watching one of the networks up here (CBC, Global, or SAQ, I can't remember) and they had this special on a devise in the maple syrup industry that is gaining popularity.

For those of you south of the land where ice was born, maple syrup is huge up here. They have these places called sugar cabins, cabanes a sucre en francais, like Chalet St. Hyperglycemia where everything is made with maple syrup. You have eggs drowning in maple syrup, ham, pork rinds, crepes, little tiny hot dogs, potatoes. A real meat and potatoes meal covered with sugary goodness. And since you haven't already had enough because your kids are now doing cartwheels on the ceiling, there is the grand finale. Le tire (taffy for you blokes). Maple syrup further boiled down to a thick consistancy, poured over snow to harden, then picked up by you with a popsicle stick and eaten. There are regularly scheduled free bus trips to these sugar cabins sponsored by the local dentists. But I digress...

So on this show they had a devise that will apparently send the maple syrup industry through the roof making maple products more popular than smarties, air filled chocolate bars, and whippets. The traditional method of extracting sap from maple trees has been and still is to tap a tube into a tree then let the sap naturally drain out into a bucket. In order to make maple syrup, the contents of the bucket are boiled down to create the final product. Four hundred buckets of sap are needed to create one bucket of syrup. This new devise was created by a maple syrup harvester, Marc Tremblay, near Thetford Mines here in Quebec. Apparently one spring day a couple years ago, he was vacuuming out his car in the spring when he got his idea. He decided to connect the shop vac up to one of the tree taps to see how much more sap he would get. Well after adding some duct tape and sterilizing the container of his shop vac, he found it yielded three times his normal sap production in a fraction of the time.

The first year was a windfall. He went around from tree to tree with his 4 wheeler, the modified shop vac, and a generater and got so much sap he was almost unable to boil it all down correctly. But later that summer he paid the price. About half of his trees could not survive loosing what was essentially their blood. So he enlisted the help of the Université de Sherbrooke to find a solution for the trees. Meanwhile he perfected his creation creating a central accumulation point with an industrial vac and vast pipeline network leading to all the remaining trees. Complete with adjustable valves to attain the correct flow rate for each tree. The solution of the professors at the university was to replenish the sap that was removed with a watered down corn syrup mixture with added potassium and nitrates. So far the results have been good with only one out of forty trees lost and no noticable effect on the finished product.

As far as the device, it is receiving great acclaim. Mr. Tremblay's second year was just as productive without the loss of trees. But since his brother has bought the farm and he has gone into business selling his product. Orders are apparently pouring in from all over the sappy area. The testimonial from one of his neighbors said it all, "It's really an amazing innovation. It really sucks!!"


Unknown said...

Happy April Fools everyone!

Blork said...


zura said...

Damn you, Frank! In my defense, I read this on April 3rd.