Birch tree sap

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Cover Story -

Just as syrup can be tapped from the maple tree, a sweet syrup can also be ob­tained from birch trees. Queen­stown block owner Denise Greer has tapped her trees and given it a go.

“You have to do it be­fore the buds burst; af­ter that it turns sour,” says Denise.

Bear in mind that what you get af­ter tap­ping needs to be pro­cessed al­most im­me­di­ately.

“The sap is like wa­ter and pretty taste­less un­til you boil it. Then, af­ter hours and hours, you fi­nally get a sweet syrup.”

Denise says she boiled the liq­uid for at least eight hours, but even then she thinks it may have needed longer.

“Even af­ter boil­ing that long it still wasn’t syrupy, but had thick­ened a bit and re­duced from around 1 litre down to only maybe 300ml.”

Birch sap is high in fruc­tose, while maple is higher in su­crose. Su­crose is sweeter tast­ing, which is why maple syrup is more sug­ary.

The syrup from birch trees may not be as sweet, but it still makes a good sub­sti­tute for maple syrup. It’s also rich in vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and an­tiox­i­dants, and is cred­ited with help­ing to soothe a range of ail­ments, in­clud­ing colds, flu, headaches, high choles­terol, skin con­di­tions and rheuma­tism.

Birch sap flows from the roots to the buds in early spring, so tap­ping is done in early spring be­fore the leaves ap­pear.

Birch trees pro­vide a wa­tery, taste­less sap... un­til you boil it.

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