Tapping Birch Trees – Lots o’ Sap

Maple and myself were super inspired by our good friends of Bunchberry Farms last year; they tapped some 20 birch trees and got gallons and gallons of birch sap. “What is birch sap?” you ask, faithful reader? To answer these questions I turned to that most reputable of sources: Wikipedia.

The page on birch sap had this useful information, “Birch sap is the sap extracted from a birch tree. The sap is often a slightly sweet, thin syrupy-watery liquid. The tree sap contains sugars, proteins, amino acids, and enzymes. Birch sap must be collected during a specific time of the year, depending on the species and geography, at the break of winter and spring when the sap moves intensively, typically between the first thaws and the start of bud development. The collected sap can be drunk as a tonic.”

About this information:

1. Birch sap is freakin’ delicious and incredibly good for you. It tastes like slightly sweet water.

2. If you’ve got several birch trees around that need to be cut down in the next couple years, those are the ideal trees to tap.

3. Tapping birch trees takes all of two minutes (less if you have a good drill) and has one of the smallest work to harvest ratio of any gathering activity in Alaska. For about two minutes of work you will get buckets and buckets of sap.

Since Maple and myself had five birch trees that we knew we were cutting down this summer to accommodate our new driveway we had the perfect situation for some birch tapping. The trick we figured out (after our first hole was drilled) is to drill holes at a slightly upward angle, thus allowing the sap to flow down more easily.

It was beautiful outside; warm sunlight, crisp air, and perfect light for photos.

Birch trees in the sun - about to be tapped.

Birch trees in the sun – about to be tapped.

Tap bounty.

Tap bounty.

Happy, happy.

Happy, happy.

Drill the hole

Drill the hole.

Up close.

Up close.

It can be kind of intense. (Look at Maple's stance!)

It can be kind of intense. (Look at Maple’s stance!)

Lovely man with all the supplies.

Lovely man with all the supplies.

First tap in!

First tap in!

Up close of the plastic spout. (Isn't the built in hook for the bucket pretty nice?)

Up close of the plastic spout. (Isn’t the built in hook for the bucket pretty nice?)

All ready to go!

All ready to go!

Overhead perspective.

Overhead perspective.

About to tap the last tree.

About to tap the last tree.

I told him to use his model face...

I told him to use his model face…

All set to collect.

All set to collect.

Cluster of buckets.

Cluster of buckets.

The dogs were all outside with us so I snapped a few photos of them as well. There’s few things cuter than watching a sweet puppy roll in the snow.

Gunnar in his element.

Gunnar in his element.

Snorri engaging in her favorite physical activity: watching.

Snorri engaging in her favorite physical activity: watching.

And then you say her name and she looks at you. It's pretty cute.

And then you say her name and she looks at you. It’s pretty cute.

Find the Gunnar.

Find the Gunnar.

Sabine playing fetch and keep-away with her favorite other individual: herself.

Sabine playing fetch and keep-away with her favorite other individual: herself.

Cheers and Love,

Maple and Me

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