Boost Your Immune System With Birch Sap

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About: Danish cabinet maker and furniture designer. Now living in Sweden with my wonderful wife and two little girls. I absolutely crave creation. Any process that enquires getting ideas and making them come to l...

Intro: Boost Your Immune System With Birch Sap

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:

A bottle

Strong string

Sharp knife

Drinking straw

Some kind of drill with a drillbit that matches the diameter of the straw.

A couple of hours

Let's go!

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?

Good luck!

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    116 Discussions

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    treenerdgoldenskyhook

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    VERY cool link you gave me there! Thank you so much! I will quote some of it here:

    "Birch sap contains fructose, glucose, fruit acids, amino acids, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, zinc, sodium and iron. All substances of the sap have their own important functions also in the human body."

    Indeed you boost your immune system.

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    ArticAkitatreenerd

    Reply 3 years ago

    don't know why I haven't done this before? Lived up here on top of the world for over a decade in Alaska & never even tried to tap a birch?!? until now! super easy just as long as nobody knows what I'm obviously doing otherwise sabotage my balancing act tied to the tree. Btw using a squeeze of fresh lemon did not give it much flavor, birch juice is fine by itself. & not really cucumbery been freezing a stash in soda bottles in the freezer. just glad moose whom love birch leaves don't go after the sap jug on the tree it don't look like a branch so thats good!...been here 13 years no bears in the backyard! just in everybody elses yard but ours! :P nice instructable!

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    kimspindel

    3 years ago on Introduction

    Nice instructable! I'm surprised that not many people know about this, given the massive amount of birch trees here in Sweden (although I have heard that it is more common in other parts of Europe and Russia)

    Just one question - do you think pollution is something of a concern? I have heard that you shouldn't pick mushrooms or berries too close to large roads/towns, so do you think it is a similar story for birch sap?

    1 reply
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    treenerdkimspindel

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    This is a good question.
    Yes, I believe that you should keep pollution in mind when picking out a tree. I have the privilege of living in a natural resort, so I can find trees that haven't been in contact with cars.

    Albeit birch has a bark that makes it extremely resistant to outside influences, the ground that the trees grow in has a tendency to have a much higher amount of heavy metals, when close to dense car traffic. I could imagine that it would affect the insides of the tree.

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    treenerdstudleylee

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, and btw I love that Fender! What is the body made of? it looks like ash?

    I am close to finishing my own first bass building project. I made mine out of ash and wenge with a finger board in bloodwood. Sadly, I never took that many pictures of the processs, so I won't be able to make a proper ible on it.

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    studleyleetreenerd

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    I will very much like to see your bass when you are done!!! Sounds beautiful!
    I fairly sure mine is also "Ash" wood, but with a maple neck. info:
    http://www.chicagomusicexchange.com/collections/bass-guitars/products/fender-p-bass-natural-1977-s668

    I've had it since I was 13 or so. I made the pick guard and bridge in my first metal machining classes in the 80's, then I wanted it to look similar to a MusicMan bass( also by LeoFender design ). I was playing it this morning :-) -Best Regards -Lee
    for laughs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4pwYZ5h7qw

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    treenerdstudleylee

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    -As promised earlier. Here she is. Birthmarks, and a lot of imperfections. She plays really well, though. amazing sustain.

    18612_10205352900754732_7466729507247168114_n.jpg11168011_10205352900714731_4191908139956725567_n.jpg
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    treenerdstudleylee

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! Yeah, it seemed logical to angle them. It made it feel a little more natural for the hands.

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    treenerdstudleylee

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    HAHA! nice clip! I was first like: are they wearing wigs? then I saw when it had been published and thought: probably not. I will send you a pic when it's done. I drew it up in Solidworks at first. You can see a rendering here:

    I bought most of the hardware from Warwick, so the saddle looks diferent, plus i chose straight up black tuners instead of the Gibson ones.

    Elbass 01.JPG
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    CJLullham

    3 years ago on Introduction

    I used to drink a lot of it when I was a child. My grandma told me how to extract the sap. But in time I forgot about it. Thank you for reminding me

    1 reply
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    I've tapped maple trees before. (The sap is quite tasty, like water with a woody twist.) Not so sure about plugging the hole or not. It's a real small hole and I think the sap only runs when the weather is going below and above freezing, at least for maple trees anyway. I know commercial tapperies or whatever dont plug the maple tree holes. The risk there is introducing some kind of disease that will kill the tree, rot it from the inside. I read about somebody felling a tree that he had tapped and then plugged the hole and thats what he saw, right from that plugged spot the tree had rotted and thaTS what killed it. Lol about the boost your immune system. I dont know as you can really claim one way or the other about that, but then why not? It's got trees in it right? Its got to be good for you!

    1 reply

    Birch trees don't heal themselves the same way maple trees do and can literally bleed to death if the hole is not plugged. Maples are a lot more resilient and heal themselves up with no need for a plug.