Are you pulling out your maple taps and plugging the holes? Maybe it's time to tap a birch!
Mark and I aren't
interested in selling birch syrup, but since our maples stopped running
last week, we figured we might as well tap a birch tree and see what all
the fuss is about. I have to admit that I've only boiled down the
barest smidgen of syrup (made from about three pints of sap), but I can
tell that birch syrup is very different from maple syrup. For one thing,
the former is much darker, even in the sap stage. The photo above shows
condensed sap that began life as one gallon of liquid and will still
need to be boiled down considerably before it becomes true syrup. As you
can see, the condensed sap is already much darker than the box-elder syrup beside it.
between maple and birch syrup is flavor, although this factor will vary
depending on which species of birch you're tapping. Most birch syrup
sold in the U.S. is made from Paper Birch or Alaska Birch grown in (you
guessed it) Alaska, but our much more southern clime means that Black
Birch is our common species. Although Black Birch twigs taste strongly
of wintergreen, I didn't notice any wintergreen flavor in the syrup we
sampled. Instead, the dark liquid reminded me of sorghum molasses, and
I'd likely use my birch syrup in the same recipes I use with that
southern staple sweetener.
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