Tapped Birch Water
We have a nice grove of Birch Trees not far from the property so this spring we decided to try our hand at tapping the birch trees to drink the water and make Birch Syrup.
These Birch trees have a history, my husband used to tap the same area and possibly some of the same trees when he was a young boy. He and his brothers tapped the trees for his Uncle who used the birch water to make wine.
Birch Water Benefits
Birch water may be the super drink you don’t know about, the sap or water from this tree is harvested over a short 3 – 4 week period in early spring when the sap begins to run, before the new leaves begin to grow. The sap or water flows through the tree from the root to the tip and is full of wonderful nutrients.
Drinking Birch Water helps the body flush out harmful toxins which help to maintain good kidney and liver health, these are two of the key organs birch water/sap is considered to by very effective in detoxifying. Birch water does this by:
- removing toxic waste from the Liver
- filtering and removing waste from the Kidneys
Birch Water is rich in zinc, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin C. Birch Water also contains saponins which is a compound that has cholesterol reducing properties.
Collecting Birch Water
How to collect your own Birch Water
Birch Water is collected in the early spring when daytime temperatures are above zero, the water will run for 3 – 4 weeks and depending on how much and what is being made, you will want to tap more than one tree.
This year we tapped 7 trees – a mature tree should give you about 1 – 4 litres of sap per day and it takes about 25 gallons of sap to make a litre of birch syrup.
Birch water does not keep well – it has a shelf life or just a few days, so as we were collecting the sap we put it in containers and froze it so we could make the sap at a later date.
Finding the right trees
Look around your area for bigger trees that are healthy and have a good canopy, typically the trees with lots of branches will be the best flowing and give you lots of sap. Once you have found your Birch Tree patch its time to tap the trees.
Tapping the trees
Tapping Birch Trees for syrup is really quite easy, the hardest part is finding the trees and once found it can be time-consuming while collecting the sap. We collected every morning and some times the sap had filled the containers and was running over by the time we got there. Next year we will be using bigger containers.
- For tapping the trees you will need a drill and a drill bit, tubes and containers.
- Make sure to drill the hole the same size as your tubing or the sap will leak out around the tube, we used 1/2″ tubing, some people use bigger tubing but that is what we had.
- The holes were drilled 3/4″ into the tree, the tube placed in and a container placed and secured around the tree. Most of the holes were drilled high enough from the ground for the container to stand.
- Only one hole per tree.
- Tap as many trees as sap is needed (approx 1 – 4 litres of sap a day)
Collecting the Sap
We collected the sap daily in the morning and froze it as it was being collected. The sap will be crystal clear looking just like water. It will also taste like water with a very faint sweet taste.
Remember that the water does not keep well so either start cooking it down or freeze for use later. We make ice cubes as well, to be used as ice cubes in drinks.
When the sap stops running or becomes cloudy its time to stop collecting. Make sure once you have pulled all the tubes out that you plug the holes. Here are some pictures showing how we plugged the holes.
Making Birch Syrup
The sap from the birch tree is different from that of the maple tree making the cooking down more labour-intensive. When making maple syrup it is boiled down quicker, whereas with birch syrup you do not want to heat the sap over 200 degrees or it can effect the taste of the syrup giving it a burnt taste.
At a lower temperature it takes Birch Sap a long time to cook down, this is probably why an 8 oz bottle of the syrup costs up to $25.00 per bottle, but you can make your own with time and patience.
We started by cooking it down on the fire outside, then moved it into the house and put it on the wood stove. It was days but finally we got a couple pints of syrup. I lot track of how much water was cooked down, as I kept adding the frozen cubes into the pot.
The syrup turned out really good and has been a hit with everyone. Next year we will do more and bottle some up for gifts.
Birch Syrup Uses
- put on pancakes
- meat marinade
- glaze for salmon
- use instead of molasses
- add to your cookie recipe
- as a sweetener in coffee
- add to lemon and water for a drink
There are many Birch Syrup Recipes to be found on the Internet. These recipes use Birch Syrup in all kinds of recipes from salad dressings to cookies.
Where can I find Birch Syrup?
If collecting Birch Sap and cooking it down is not for you, you can buy birch syrup on line – Here are some links to the best Pure and Organic Birch Syrups.