Making syrup from birch sap

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Birch trees are popular for firewood, but that’s not all the birch offers.
The Holden family of Widewater will have birch syrup on their pancakes for another year.

The Leader accompanied Matthew Holden on one of his last sap-collection runs of the season last week. He had eight or 10 trees tapped and was collecting several gallons of sap or ‘birch water’ as it is also called, per day for a few weeks. The sap is then reduced by heat to the consistency of syrup and bottled for later use.

Says Holden: “Birch water/ sap is a really delicious way to build ‘some’ immunity to pollen allergies or oral allergy syndrome. The birch oil contains ASA (acetylsalicylic acid) so perhaps there is some medicinal value in the sap as well. I also have tap set-ups that I can sell to people if interested.”

The birch sap reduction operation, using propane because open fires are banned.
Matthew Holden detaches another bucket of birch water from the tree that produced it. He’ll then pour it into another bucket through a sieve to strain out the bugs.

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