The flow of Birch sap is the first chapter in spring’s playbook. Collecting birch sap and making birch syrup is the only appropriate response.
If you need nutrition fast, skip the syrup making, and just drink it. If you’re a connoisseur, you will be overwhelmed by its smooth, sweet and subtle flavour. If you’re a redneck, it will taste like water.
Check out the whole sappy story here, from heartache to pancake:
When to tap Birch trees:
Isn’t that the question. In my experience, the answer is, sometime between mid-March and mid-April. A more certain way to tell is by paying attention to the weather. When it is getting to 5 or 10 deg C in the days and still a little frosty at night, it is definitely time to poke a few birch trees and check.
How to tap Birch trees:
You can tap a birch tree with a lot of different things; plumbing fittings, hose, pipe, or a device actually made for the purpose. Some will leak more than others and some will support the bag or bucket, but they will all work. We first starting tapping birch with clear surgical tubing and a two litre pop bottle duct taped below. The moral is; don’t let the lack of equipment stop your sap sucking agenda.
Drill a hole such that your “tap” fits snug, just an inch in is sufficient. Come back the next day, and each day after that, to collect your bounty.
You can continue on to make syrup, or stop the insanity and just enjoy the Birch water as a beverage. It is the best water you will ever taste. It has all sorts of healthy stuff in it with a very minute amount of good sugars. Check out this article on the potential benefits.
How to make Birch syrup:
Making syrup is easy if you have a wood stove. Just sit a pot full of sap on the stove and wait for it to reduce to the tiniest amount of syrup imaginable (1 litre of sap will make 2 teaspoons of syrup and will take many hours). If you have an electric or gas stove, you can do the same, and it will cost you a fortune. When the level in the pot is very low, reduce the heat (or place the pot on a trivet) to avoid the sap/syrup from burning.
Now, add up all the time you spent tapping, collecting and boiling. Multiply the number of hours by your normal hourly wage at work. Divide this amount by the total mass of the syrup. You are now in possession of the worlds most expensive syrup, brag to your neighbours, and enjoy it.
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