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Steve: Walnut Syrup

 
Simon Johnson
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After watching the little video posted under the thread about your book, I want to learn more about walnut syrup. There are lots of black walnut trees around where I am. Would I be able to tap these? How does the syrup compare to maple? How old/large should the trees be before tapping?
 
Rob Read
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I'm interested in this too. I talked to an old-timer last December who said that black walnut syrup had an undesirable taste, but that was only according to his own family. People who are into natural or gourmet foods often have very different palettes.

I've also heard about sycamore as a tree for syrup. And birch for both syrup and beer. I'd be interested to know if there are others.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Me too! What are all of the potential syrup trees?
 
Kim Hill
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I have a friend who makes a lot of birch syrup but she adds sugar to make it sweet. Is it necessary to add sugar to all other types of syrup other than maple? If not, will they eventually get sweeter as you boil it down?

As a second question, can you make sugar from any other tree than maple? I usually boil off the water in maple to make sugar and would love to be able to do so with other flavors of tree sap.
 
Ghislaine de Lessines
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I wonder if my birch sap wine recipe that I'd be curious to know if it would work with maple or other saps. I've been meaning to try for years but never got around to tapping trees.
 
Victor Johanson
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Kim Hill wrote:I have a friend who makes a lot of birch syrup but she adds sugar to make it sweet. Is it necessary to add sugar to all other types of syrup other than maple? If not, will they eventually get sweeter as you boil it down?

As a second question, can you make sugar from any other tree than maple? I usually boil off the water in maple to make sugar and would love to be able to do so with other flavors of tree sap.


As birch syrup gets sweeter, it also get stronger. Some people think it's too strong and dilute it with sugar. But I think that's cheating!
 
Kim Hill
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Victor thanks for the clarification on why sugar is added to Birch syrup. I would probably leave it out because I really like the strong taste...probably why I like the darker maple syrups compared to the more costly auburn?
 
Victor Johanson
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Kim Hill wrote:Victor thanks for the clarification on why sugar is added to Birch syrup. I would probably leave it out because I really like the strong taste...probably why I like the darker maple syrups compared to the more costly auburn?


Sure. I haven't made any in a few years now, but I never did add any sugar. The syrup was strong and dark, and it took awhile for me to acquire a taste for it. The faster it's evaporated, the milder the syrup.
 
Steve Gabriel
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Thanks for the questions, folks.

Ok, so here is the deal on syrups.

Basically, Maple, Walnut, and Birch. Some reference Hickory but that is not tree sap, rather the bark that is cooked and then mixed with sugar.

Maple and Walnut saps are basically 40:1, so 40 gallons of tree sap = 1 gal of finished syrup

Birch ranges from 60:1 to 80:1!

We found that walnut SAP isn't always tasty - sometimes twiggy. But the syrup is REAL yum. Like maple + honey.

The trick is that there is a gelatin like substance in the walnut sap, which means you need to filter it more, at the beginning, and middle, of the boiling process.

As for birch, the syrup is rich and flavorful and not sweet like the other tree saps. Its better as a savory addition to foods. I had a phenonomal birch syrup vodka a few years back.

There is also a little bit of documentation on tapping Sycamore, but mostly for the nutrient-rich sap.

cheers
Steve
 
Mat Smith
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Steve Gabriel wrote:Basically, Maple, Walnut, and Birch.
There is also a little bit of documentation on tapping Sycamore, but mostly for the nutrient-rich sap.

So Maple, Walnut, Birch, and Sycamore are the only 4?

Are there any caveats on syrup collection? Does it need a really cold winter? I ask as I am in the sub-tropics in Queensland Australia, so no snow where I am, maybe only a couple of days of frost a year.

Mat
 
Kim Hill
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[/quote Are there any caveats on syrup collection? Does it need a really cold winter? I ask as I am in the sub-tropics in Queensland Australia, so no snow where I am, maybe only a couple of days of frost a year.

Mat

I have made plenty of maple syrup and you indeed need very cold weather. The best time to collect the sap is when it warms up above freezing in the morning and gets below freezing at night. Basically the sap flows back down to the root zone when it is cold and rises when the temperature warms up. The sap tends to get bitter once the buds break and collecting is then over.
 
Mat Smith
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Kim Hill wrote:I have made plenty of maple syrup and you indeed need very cold weather. The best time to collect the sap is when it warms up above freezing in the morning and gets below freezing at night. Basically the sap flows back down to the root zone when it is cold and rises when the temperature warms up. The sap tends to get bitter once the buds break and collecting is then over.



Thanks for the info Kim.
 
Rob Read
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I just remembered that I've heard references to Cider Gum as another tree that is tapped. It's not hardy in my climate zone (rated at USDA Zone 7, I think). Anyone tried that one? If I remember right, it can be drank as a sap, and must have some taste similarities to apple cider?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Various palm trees yield more sugar per acre than is obtained from sugar cane. After checking out several sources, it seems to be about double. The tapping of trees is labor intensive but does not include total clearing of the site as with cane. For those in the tropics, this could work in a food forest.
 
M H Bonham
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Mat Smith wrote:
Steve Gabriel wrote:Basically, Maple, Walnut, and Birch.
There is also a little bit of documentation on tapping Sycamore, but mostly for the nutrient-rich sap.

So Maple, Walnut, Birch, and Sycamore are the only 4?

Are there any caveats on syrup collection? Does it need a really cold winter? I ask as I am in the sub-tropics in Queensland Australia, so no snow where I am, maybe only a couple of days of frost a year.

Mat


I've had Box Elder Syrup. Has a woody-smoky taste. Very tasty.
 
Rob Read
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Jaggery palm is tapped, and even dried into a kind of rock sugar. That palm, and possibly the others, don't need to be thinned. They also have potential uses as alcohol based fuels with really minor processing (just fermenting I think).

I think current conventional practices are similar to oil palms though - clear acres of land, and put in a palm monoculture, spray all 'weeds' etc. A food forest model is so superior - especially as food forests are an invention of the peoples of the tropics originally.

Box Elder - now that's interesting. A really common tree in my area, and this little acreage I'm about to adopt has loads of them. I hadn't found uses for them until quite recently, and this is the second. The other is as a very fast growing coppice species for chop and drop mulch.
 
Mat Smith
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Mh Bonham wrote:
Mat Smith wrote:
Steve Gabriel wrote:Basically, Maple, Walnut, and Birch.
There is also a little bit of documentation on tapping Sycamore, but mostly for the nutrient-rich sap.

So Maple, Walnut, Birch, and Sycamore are the only 4?

Are there any caveats on syrup collection? Does it need a really cold winter? I ask as I am in the sub-tropics in Queensland Australia, so no snow where I am, maybe only a couple of days of frost a year.

Mat


I've had Box Elder Syrup. Has a woody-smoky taste. Very tasty.

Woody smoky taste? Sounds delicious!
 
M H Bonham
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Location: NW Montana, Zone 4?
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Mat Smith wrote:
Mh Bonham wrote:
Mat Smith wrote:
Steve Gabriel wrote:Basically, Maple, Walnut, and Birch.
There is also a little bit of documentation on tapping Sycamore, but mostly for the nutrient-rich sap.

So Maple, Walnut, Birch, and Sycamore are the only 4?

Are there any caveats on syrup collection? Does it need a really cold winter? I ask as I am in the sub-tropics in Queensland Australia, so no snow where I am, maybe only a couple of days of frost a year.

Mat


I've had Box Elder Syrup. Has a woody-smoky taste. Very tasty.

Woody smoky taste? Sounds delicious!


Yes, it is! A fellow who lives in Missoula had some maple and box elder syrup for sale a couple years back. I tried the box elder syrup and it was very, very good. A Grade A type of syrup too. Had much more complexity and depth than maple, if that makes any sense. He had the jars marked what tree it actually came from.

Very interesting.

 
Victor Johanson
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Box elder is a maple. I remember reading years ago in a Euell Gibbons book that it makes great maple syrup; he rated it third best, after sugar and silver maples.
 
M H Bonham
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Victor Johanson wrote:Box elder is a maple. I remember reading years ago in a Euell Gibbons book that it makes great maple syrup; he rated it third best, after sugar and silver maples.


Yes, it is. If an odd maple tree. But it is seldom thought of when people think of maple syrup.
 
Victor Johanson
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M H Bonham wrote:
Victor Johanson wrote:Box elder is a maple. I remember reading years ago in a Euell Gibbons book that it makes great maple syrup; he rated it third best, after sugar and silver maples.


Yes, it is. If an odd maple tree. But it is seldom thought of when people think of maple syrup.


Besides Amur, it's about the only maple we can grow up here, and I haven't seen one big enough up to tap yet. Just started growing some myself. I know of one Manchurian walnut tree that looks to be sizing up nicely after about 18 years, so I planted seeds and have a bunch to evaluate. Maybe I can tap them in 30 years if they live. But the birches are everywhere.
 
Ce Rice
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On Paul's most recent podcast Willie Smitts tals about sugar palm. His work is using them, in polyculture.

I guess they cut the flower and sugar flows out. Every couple days have to prune the flower afresh to keep the flow. Very cool!
 
Tim Malacarne
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Can silver maples be tapped? We have silver, but not the Hard maples...
 
Rob Read
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Yes: Silver can be tapped - I've done it on a small home scale. The sugar concentrate in the sap is lower, so you will likely end up using more fuel to boil it down. I just did it in a big stock pot on a fire outdoors until it got darker, then brought it inside to finish it on the stove top (so as not to accidentally burn it). I made a lighter syrup - basically stopped when it tasted good, not when it was 'syrup' like. There are MUCH better methods to do this that are more efficient, but this one worked for me on that occasion.
 
Victor Johanson
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