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Tapping The Birch Part 2

After checking the trees in my backyard I found one Birch that was flowing extremely well. You don't need much in tools and materials to collect sap from the birch tree, and any tools used in collecting maple syrup can be used as well.

Here is a list of the following items I used;

  1. Hand Drill Brace (power drill will work as well)
  2. Knife
  3. Bottle or Container (I used a Pepsi bottle)
  4. Rope (strap, wire or anything that will secure the bottle to the tree)
  5. Branch (hose, tap, metal tube can be use to direct the flow of sap to your container)
  6. Rag/Cloth

You need to first clear away the bark from the spot where you intend to drill your hole. Either peel or scrape away the bark with your knife. Use your knife to make a cut into the truck of the tree to make sure that sap is flowing.

I then found a branch and whittled down with my knife to fit my hole that I will make with my drill bit and I also notched out a small channel on the top to help direct the flow of sap into my bottle. My branch/twig measured approx. 4-5 inches and I scraped all the bark off so that it was smooth so there would be no resistance.

I drilled my hole with my brace (hand powered drill) at a 10 to 20 degree angle to further effect the direction of the flow of sap. I drilled my hole to a depth of 1-1/2" to 2" and continued to hammer/pound in my branch/twig until it was fully inserted.

I recommend that you bring a rag or cloth to wipe the area around your new branch spout as liquid tends to take the path of least resistance. It also helps to use your finger to wet your spout down the shaft with the sap to promote direction of flow. I found that the sap ran down both the bottom side and in the channel on the top and they both met at the tip to forum a drip.

Next I secured a length of rope around the neck of the bottle and left approx. 8 to 10 feet of slack so that I could wrap it around a couple of time so that it would not fall under it own weight when the bottle started to get half full.

You need to wrap the rope around the tree and with every second wrap I found I needed to wrap the rope over the top and then under the neck of the bottle on every second wrap to hold it in place and prevent the bottle slipping down the tree. Alternatively you could use straps or strips of Velcro to secure it to the tree.

I was in luck that a fallen stump was laying right next to the tree and I found a flat rock to make a stable base for my bottle. The roots of this stump laid right next to the tree and made things a lot easier.

I was able to collect 1750ml of sap in about 6 hours and filled the bottle
in about 8 hours. After changing the bottle I was only able to get another 1/4 liter of sap in 12 hours. I proceeded to drill another hole 6-7 inch around the other side of the trunk and had similar results.

I would only suggest tapping the tree twice as you do not want to harm the tree and disrupt the natural flow of sap that the tree needs to grow and sprout leaves for the summer.

Please note that you need to remove the spout and stop the flow of sap by placing a plug made from a branch or twig. Your plug should be a
larger than your hole to create a compression fit so that no sap can leak out. I never seen a tree die (bleed to death) from a open hole but if you want to tap the tree year after year a little prevention couldn't hurt. You also need to make it long enough to fill the cavity as well.

So what plans do I have with my collected sap, well I was going to try making Birch syrup but at this time I haven't collected enough, as the ratio is 100:1 for birch and only 40:1 for maple syrup. I plan to drink my 4 liters which is packed full of vitamins.

I will plan for next year harvest and try both maple and birch syrup processing. I hope this will help anybody looking to tap the birch tree in early spring.

Tapping The Birch

I finally can start posting some new subjects, now that the snow is gone and spring is here.

First on my list is tapping the sap from Birch Trees. I have been testing my birch trees for the last 3 weeks of March and no sign that the birch is producing sap. After having 5 days of rain and being the 1st of April, the birch trees are producing the clear watery sap that I have been waiting so long to collect.

Like sugar maples, the sap that travels up through birch trees in early spring is sweet and tasty. The predominant, naturally occurring sugar in birch syrup is fructose, as opposed to maple which contains primarily sucrose. Fructose, due to its chemical structure, is more easily digested and assimilated by the human body. Fructose has the lowest glycemic index of all sugars and can therefore be the most suitable sugar for use. Birch syrup is high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, manganese, thiamine, and calcium. Native American Indians have long known of its medicinal benefits and have used it for centuries. The sap can be reduced down to a syrup; like maple syrup, brewed in to beer & wine or you can drink it straight from the tree.

The birch tree will produce this sap for approx. 4 weeks or until the leafs are in full bloom, this time period will shorten if the temps rise really quickly and stay stable during the spring which will lead to early sprouting of its leaves.

The tapping of birch trees and production of this syrup is growing in Alaska, birch tapping is not so common elsewhere. Perhaps it is because more than 100 gallons of birch sap are needed to make a single gallon of birch syrup; where as it only takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make a single gallon.

I will post some pictures in the next couple of days with a tutorial on how to tap birch trees.

Thanks for reading

Bushman Joe