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A new way to boil

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Some sugar makers here in the state are taking a new approach to an old Vermont favorite.

Vermont's prized possession can be found around the country but there's a new way to boil maple syrup that can't be found just anywhere. At Shelburne Sugarworks, sugar makers are using a natural gas boiler.

"As a sugar maker, you always look at things in terms of how do I maximize the amount of sap that I can get and minimize my capitol costs," said owner Steven Palmer.

Palmer and his team were the first in the state to use natural gas to boil...it all started when Vermont Gas ran natural gas pipelines right thru their backyard.

"Once I got the burner specialist involved and he said yea Steve this is a piece of cake, I said ok, now Ive got some confidence that we can do this," Palmer said.

So far, they say the process has cut labor.

"In the case of wood, its a fuel you have to hall, its just less work. So getting the environmental benefit has other benefits as well or getting the efficiency benefit has other benefits, put it that way," said Alex Depillis, a Senior Agricultural Development Coordinator.

Palmer has cut his costs in half. A Reverse-osmosis machine also helps speed up the process by concentrating the sap, separating the water, and increasing the sugar content before it reaches the boiler.

It's a way to boil he believes other sugar makers may soon consider, depending on their access to natural gas.

Though, as the trend catches on, there are environmental concerns.

"Because of the whole life cycle process of making natural gas, finding it, and piping it, there's enough leaks along the way that it actually has similar green house gas effects to burning fuel oil when you look at the whole process," Depillis said.

But out here at Sugarworks, it's a old tradition the sugar makers say is just being done a new way. Not to mention, they feel, the results are just as delicious.

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