In the spring of 2016 just after finishing the annual maple season, we decided to try boiling some birch sap. We placed plastic barells around the woods and collected birch sap with plastic tubing running from tree to tree. When the barells were full, we gathered the sap with our Honda ATV pulling a trailer with a tank. Since we didn't start this process until after maple season was finished, we made only a small bit of syrup. It was very labour intensive, but we were able to produce some good quality birch syrup. It was reminiscent of raspberries in flavor, with sort of a molasses like caramel tone to it.
Birch syrup, we discovered, is a totally different animal than maple syrup. First of all, Birch sap has way less sugar in it than maple. With birch sap it takes between about 100 and 180 gallons to make one gallon of syrup. With maple it is more like 35 to 90 gallons. Another difference is that birch season is only one to three weeks in legnth. Birch trees also do not need a freeze and thaw cycle to produce sap, the way maples do
The trees produce usable sap until their leaves begin to come out. As the sap flow progresses, the syrup produced, gets more dark, rich, and tart. This is due to the chemical changes that the tree is making to its sap in order to grow leaves, bark, and seeds. Birch syrup is roughly 40 percent glucose, and 40 percent fructose. it also has a sugar called galactose, in smaller amounts, as well as one percent or less of sucrose. Birch syrup has a lower glycemic index value of 50. A lower value than some other sugars, and better for those who have to watch their blood sugar.
Uses of Birch Syrup are more in line with flavorings. It is closer to molasses than maple. It is great for glazing meat, fish, and vegetables. It makes exellent vinaigrettes, marinades, and sauces. It can be used as a steak sauce. It also makes a great sweet or hot chicken wing glaze. A very interesting quality of this syrup is its ability to bring flavors out of different foods. I would say it unlocks some flavors. I encourage people to be bold, and try it with things you might not expect it to pair with. I recently sold Birch syrup, and gave out samles to about 300 people during a local harvest festival, and it was very interesting to hear the remarks people gave about the flavor. Some people said it was like balsamic, or worcestershire, teriyaki, coconut, raspberry, molasses, cherry, licorice, steak sauce. There were so many different perceptions of the flavor, it really fascinating, and it makes me want to know WHY. Of those who tried the syrup sample by itself, out of about 300 people, only about half a dozen, reported that they didnt like it. This was awesome, because I thought many would find it too tart.
Another very enjoyable way to use Birch Syrup is to use it as a cocktail syrup. I treat it like a fruit syrup, like cherry, or raspberry. I have included some basic cocktail recipes, but I,m sure a creative bartender could find some interesting mixes. experiment!
Birch is also really good on vanilla ice cream. On a cone, or in a milkshake! It is also good with seltzer water, kind of like a light cream soda. Not wintergreen flavor like traditional Birch Beer, or root beer, because that flavor comes from bark oils which are not in the sap in any significant quantity. Birch also seems to pair well with honey. Honey, or a little Maple Syrup, can sweeten a Birch flavored drink, such as a Birch Syrup Lemonade.
We at Watson Birchworks, are dedicated to using sustainable and environmentally friendly practices in our forests. Both Birch and Maple trees are favored, while at the same time making sure to protect diversity of species, both plant and animal Our future is our healthy forest!
Birch Basil Fish Glaze.
8 cloves garlic
1/3 cup minced red sweet pepper
1/3 cup minced shallot
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup Birch Syrup
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine
salt to taste
On medium heat, cook shallots until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add peppers, and cook 3 more minutes on medium, stirring often.
Add garlic, paprika, wine, and basil, and cook 2 more minutes.
Turn heat to low, and add Birch Syrup, and lemon juice.
Simmer on low heat for 2 minutes, or until sauce thickens slightly.
Use for glazing Grilled or Baked fish. Striped Bass, Trout, and
Salmon are all good choices. This glaze is also exellent with chiken!
Birch Teriyaki Sauce
6 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Birch Syrup
2 Tbsp. Toasted sesame oil
2 Large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. shallots, minced.
1 Tsp. Fresh ginger, minced
Combine ingredients, and stir.
Refrigerate until use.
Exellent in place of regular teriyaki sauce.
Birch Ginger Cookies
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks room temp unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup Birch Syrup
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift flour, baking soda, spices, and salt into a small bowl. Set aside.
Mix sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Scrape bowl, add Birch Syrup, and mix till blended.
Scrape bowl again, add egg, and mix till blended.
Add flour mixture, blend, scrape bowl, and blend until smooth.
Drop the dough in heaping tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the sheets.
Bake cookies 12 to 15 minutes, or until still slightly soft.
Let cool completely on baking sheets.
After the first day, store in an airtight container.
Birched Brussels Sprouts.
1 Pound Brussels Sprouts
1/2 Tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tsp onion powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons Birch Syrup
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Clean and trim Brussels sprouts.
Halve Sprouts vertically.
Mix Garlic and onion powder with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Lightly oil a cookie sheet with remaining olive oil.
Place Brussels, flat side down on the cookie sheet.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until browning slightly.
Mix Birch Syrup, with olive oil, onion, and garlic mixture.
Remove Brussels, Toss with Glaze mixture, and Bake 5 more minutes.
Remove, let cool, and serve with a little salt and pepper.