Updated on April 27th, 2019.
Birch is the Finnish national tree, because of many reasons. For instance, there are a lot of them. Also, in the traditional Finnish sauna you would use birch branches in order to flavor the room. In the past, birch bark was used in order to make baskets or even shoes.
Well, birch is also a nourishment resource. From it you can extract birch sap.
During the spring time. April usually is the best month. The degrees should be around +4 so that the sap would run inside the tree and wouldn’t be not frozen, but also it’s not too warm so that it would get spoiled. The tree shouldn’t yet have leaves or even sprouts because then the tree will need all the water it’s got to make the leaves grow.
- Drill. Before drilling disinfect the blade first with fire and then with alcohol.
- Plastic tube from the juice extractor or some other tube for alimentary use. Also it’s important to check that will fit perfectly to the hole you make.
- A bottle or more than one
Take a healthy & powerful tree, so that a little wound wouldn’t hurt it. Even though a hole wouldn’t hurt a healthy tree, you should get a permission from the land owner to drill the tree, because for example you cannot make anymore veneer out of it.
The reason why it doesn’t damage the tree is that one single tree would suck hundreds of liters of water. There are trees from which people have taken sap every year for decades. So if you clean the hole and keep the tree in good condition, the tree will last long. The bigger the trunk, the more sap it has. The biggest trees (30-40 cm thick) can give up to 15 liters of sap per day.
Drill your hole approximately half a meter from the ground. The hole shouldn’t be deeper than 3 cm. Connect one end of the tube in the hole and the other end in the bottle. Usually in Finland there is still snow at this time of the year, so you can use the snow in order to keep the bottle cold.
Make sure that no trash or insects can go inside the bottle (it has sugar so ants like it!). So now everything you’ll have to do is to let it drip.
It’s good to change the bottle once a day so that the sap doesn’t get spoiled. Drink it in a day or two or freeze it. There is also the possibility to preserve it longer by boiling it, but in that case it will be pasteurized so many nutrients will get killed.
Detoxifying, diuretic, cleansing and purifying. Also, some sugars inside the sap release methyl salicylate that also come from salicylic acid and so if of course analgesic, anti inflammatory and diuretic. Diuresis, in turn, make the body loose things that it doesn’t need, like uric acids and cholesterol.
You’ve got spring allergies? Try drinking birch sap, it might reduce or even prevent pollen allergies!
There are many ways of using sap in cooking. Some people use it in baking substituting the water, for example in the traditional pulla, the Finnish sweet bread. Others replace water in making coffee with sap. Also it can be simply drank in the morning, during meals or after exercising. But birch sap can also be fermented into beer and this is exactly what we tried to do!
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