Birch sap – tapping and preparation
Birch sap has long been considered a healthy drink, and has been consumed in all countries where the birch tree is common. There is a growing interest in collecting birch sap and preparing wine and other sap-based drinks.
Location: Nation wide
Birch sap is collected in early spring before the first leaves appear on the tree. When the temperature reaches around 8°C the sap starts to activate and can be tapped. The birch tree should ideally be at least 30 years old. Sap is tapped by drilling a hole in the tree trunk and inserting a pipe. The sap flows through the pipe and several liters can be collected from each tree. When the tapping is finished, a wooden plug seals the hole and protects the tree from further damage. Birch sap can be consumed immediately after collection, but will quickly start to ferment if left refrigerated for a few days.
Birch sap has historically been considered a healthy drink. It has been used to cure a variety of diseases such as tuberculosis, colic, and kidney stones. It was also common to ferment the birch sap and add various spices or wine to the mix. In the 19th and 20th centuries, sap was used for cosmetic purposes and could be used as a face wash.
Today, there is a growing interest in the tapping and preparation of birch sap. In Sweden, it is important to note that birch sap tapping is not included in the freedom to roam, and the landowner’s permission is needed to collect sap. Xylitol has been extracted from birch sap since the 1980s, and is used as a substitute for sugar. There is a renewed interest in birch sap as a drink, with producers making both alcoholic and non-alcoholic birch sap beverages.