YES! Spring is here and anyone living somewhat close to the northern hemisphere should know that the season for tapping birch sap is nigh.
Birch sap is rumored to be some kind of "holy forest water", curing anything from scurvy to pollen allergy. I don't really know about that. All I know is that it has a lot of vitamins and antioxidants in it. Which ones? Dunno.
You can think of it like this: This is the juice the tree produces to kickstart itself after a long winter of hibernating. It has to have a lot of really good boosting power in order to get an entire tree going.
For this project you will need:
Some kind of drill with a drillbit that matches the diameter of the straw.
A couple of hours
Step 1: Find a Good Birch Tree.
You will want to find a tree that has a fairly decent size. A good rule of thumb for the right time for harvesting is when the leaves on the tree just barely started to unfold.
Bring out your drill and make a hole in the bark. You will know that you are through, when sap starts to drip out from the hole.
A good tip is to find a really old tree. Decent size on the trunk and a really thick bark. The thickness on the bark provides a good support for your straw.
Another tip: The bigger the treetop, the higher the pressure. If you can find a nice old tree that grows on its own, with no other trees close by to "compete" in length, it would most likely give the most sap, filling your bottle faster.
Step 2: Add the Straw.
Nothing more to it really, just plug it in.
After a short while, if you made sure to match the drillbit with the diameter of your straw, you will be able to see the sap running through the straw.
It is always good to have your prime instructor with you as well. My daughter was a good coach.
Step 3: Tie Up a Bottle.
Take a piece of string and have it go around the trunk. Then tie the bottle on the string and make sure the straw won't fall out. Then you just let it drip.
Step 4: Give It Time.
There are many ways to drain the sap from a birch, but this one is the most gentle way of doing it. The little wound you have aflicted on the tree can easily be healed up. Obviously, it will take a little longer to fill a bottle, but if you like birch sap, you would want to be able to tap from it again, so letting it bleed out is not a smart move, plus, you should treat nature with respect. Chances are that the tree is more than twice as old as you, so do this with a bit of reverence.
Step 5: Behold Your Harvest!
Well, I only let it drip for about 45 minutes, so obviously you can't expect that much from such a small effort.
Step 6: Tidy Up (VERY IMPORTAINT!)
OK, so this is the most importaint part of the process. You have to make sure that you close the hole you made. If you don't, the tree will keep bleeding, and that is a little disrespectful, concidering that it just shared some of its most vital juices with you.
Simply carve a small branch (preferredly birch) and make it slightly pointy. Then clog the hole.
Step 7: Enjoy Your Drink!
I really like the taste of birch sap. It has a fresh taste with a twist of something i best would describe as... cucumber? I haven't tried it yet, but I think it would be perfect with slice of lemon in it.
Some use the sap and let it ferment to make either wine or some sort of scandinavian champagne of it. However, I don't drink alcohol, and honestly think it would be a shame to let all those good vitamins go to waste.
It stores in the fridge for a couple of days, and can be frozen. How about a good sip of natures own vitamins in the middle of winter?