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birch, white birch

Betula pendula

The recent colder weather in Edinburgh might feel like it has put the breaks on spring time, but on the bright side it might stretch out birch sap tapping season for a little longer yet.

If you haven’t tried this, you should!  

The traditional method is drilling the trunk of the tree and attaching a spout and hose to collect the sap.  This will yield several litres per tree each day.  Since I prefer low tech, no expense, less invasive methods, I simply cut a little branch (about a cm diameter), and stick an old plastic bottle onto it.  During peak flow, I collect over a litre per tap this way, which suffices.

Birch sap is delicious (like very clean, smooth, posh table water, with just noticeable sweetness) and healthy (minerals like potassium, manganese, calcium and zinc, vitamins (C and B group), proteins, antioxidants, saponins, and, obviously, lots of H2O ).

It is lovely to drink straight from the tree, will keep a few days under refrigeration, long in the freezer, and can be boiled down to a gorgeous tasting Birch sap sirup.

It only flows before the birch tree begins to bloom and leaf, so try this soon!  The first green is on its way.

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