No matter the direction you look out here, you’ll find acres and acres of trees. Most are Poplar, followed by Pine in population density, and then Alder and Willow. Peppered in those forests are tamarack, spruce, oak, hazelnut, birch and maple.
We were able to tap a few maples and birch this season and though the maple tapping was a bit of a bust due to weather, sweet, living sap is flowing well from the birch trees now.
Sipping the fresh, sweet xylem virtually straight from the tree’s wound (really, what it is, but doesn’t hurt the tree) is our favourite. A friend recently said, “It’s like the best water I’ve had in my entire life!” Some is bottled up to ferment with ginger and dates, and the bulk of it is being boiled down into birch syrup. Just enough for a magical addition to gatherings.
Creating 1 litre of maple syrup requires 40 litres of sap… 1 litre of birch syrup requires 100 litres of sap! We had about 5 maples to tap, and 10 birch. Why tap when we have so few trees? Time together, walking to check the taps, sipping the special sap as we visit the trees, the gasps and wide eyed wonder in the kids as they come in the kitchen and see the clear sap has now turned golden… It’s an experience that connects us more with nature. And our food supply. Our kids now know why we buy real maple and birch syrup, and why it is so much more expensive than the fake stuff. They know the work involved in it. And they know the magic.