Birch Syrup Central

30 Apr

Besides sleeping in and having breakfast made for me by Michael this morning (oops! I guess technically yesterday morning), the major event of the day was going out and checking on "our" birch trees.  We drove a few kilometres out of town and trudged through treacherously melting thigh-high snow (read: every third step you sink thigh high into the snow) to the seven birch trees Michael tapped a few weeks ago.  Five he tapped using commercially-made tree taps from Home Hardware, and two he tapped using a traditional method (involving a small twig inserted into a cut in the tree bark).  I was amazed at how high the taps were – just above my head.  Michael says they were at waist height when he first put them in, so you can see how much snow we had this winter, even in the shelter of the forest.

It was a good thing we went when we did, as the collection buckets were full almost to the brim.  We collected about 25 litres of sugar water; poor Michael had quite a struggle getting the 55-pound jug back through the snow to the car!  We started boiling the sugar water down (in 3 giant stock pots!) on our stove at home.  However, I’m quite paranoid about the evaporating sugar water condensing on our walls and rendering them into a fly-paper-like surface, so after we had boiled the water down to fit into two pots, we moved the operation to a Coleman stove outside.

25 litres of sugar water may eventually yield about half a litre of birch syrup – maybe not the most environmentally-friendly food, given the large energy expenditure required for its creation.  Birch syrup has a stronger flavour than maple syrup, and we find it more suitable as a dessert topping rather than with pancakes or waffles.  I find it particularly good on Breyer’s All-Natural Vanilla ice cream – oh yeah!

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