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Anybody produce birch syrup from paper and grey birch?

 
Evan McDivitt
Posts: 9
Location: Elkland, PA
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Has anyone had any success incorporating birch syrup production into a permacultural system? I'm wondering how is it different / how is it similar to maple syrup production in terms of yields per tree; sap to syrup ratio; tree spacing in a productive bush; tapping and tubing; evaporation / processing?
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1556
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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I've not done it but have looked into it in the past. I think yields are low - you need something like three times as much sap to get the same volume of syrup. Flavour is supposed to be delicate, but easily spoiled by over heating.
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
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Yields are much much lower than sugar maple, it depends on the tree and timing of tapping but yields are really very low - so low I've never made syrup though I have made birch sap wine. Also at least in the UK about 1 in 4 silver birch (only ones I've tapped, dont know about the rest) seem to be infected with something that makes the sap smell truly foul.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Birch is a fast growing medium hard wood suitable for flooring and other uses. It often rots from sites where the bark has been injured. Tapping has proven to pay poorly and there's a real chance of destroying the lumber crop while earning $5 an hour making syrup.

A well managed stand of birch can be thinned regularly and the logs are a safe size for small millers to handle.
 
Victor Johanson
Posts: 355
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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I've made birch syrup, although not the past few years. Supposedly the sap is half as concentrated as maple. The process is basically the same. Flavor is quite different; I like it, but it's somewhat of an acquired taste. Used to boil it up on the stove and fill the house with condensation (and wreck the electric bill), but then I got an old braising table that I converted into a homebrew wood fired evaporator. I still finish it on the stove to keep from burning it, though. Trying to get some box elders going so I can see if maple syrup is at all feasible up here, but in the meantime birch is all we have. There are companies here in Alaska who do it commercially--Birch Boy is one of them: http://www.birchboy.com/
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1104
Location: northern northern california
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i'm suprised that in alaska you wouldnt do the simpler, low energy use, way of freezing to reduce the sap.

its the way the natives would process the sap, leaving it outside and letting it freeze, then letting it thaw out some. the stuff that melts is mostly maple syrup, the ice that stays solid longer is mostly water. you can repeat it, or use this method to mostly reduce it, then use heat.

anywho i havent ever done this, so who knows...but i have read about it a lot. i am curious about it. i used to live in vermont for a time, long ago, and its huge thing there. i have been curious to think about doing it with big leaf maple here, cause they are plentiful, and i read about someone using them in this way.....course here it doesnt freeze often...so the freezing would have to be done in an electricity guzzling freezer...

it would be a fun project to try with the big leaf maples....
 
Victor Johanson
Posts: 355
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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Low energy? I know stereotypes about Alaska abound, but we don't really live in igloos here, and by the time sap is flowing, it's not freezing real hard at night, so that would cost some money, whereas firewood is free. However, in the interest of science, I did try the "applejack" method with some raw sap once, in the freezer. Not sure if there's some trick to it, but it didn't seem to work for me. I kept taking layers of ice from the top, but the remaining liquid never did approach any appreciable level of sweetness.
 
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