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Thread: Birch syrup! Breaking rules but...

  1. #21
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Margaretville, NY
    Posts
    138

    Default Experience with Birch

    We have been making Birch Syrup off and on for about 10 years. A few years back a bunch of producers around the world and met at conference hosted by Cornell at Paul Smiths in the Adirondacks. Though we didn't come up any standards I feel that the majority of the producers there take their syrup to the same brix as maple. That is how we do it and we have a market for it with return customers. What was established that their are many ways to use birch sap and syrup and you just have to look at it as totally different than maple.

    Many of the producers will separate the syrup into first run, Mid run, and late run to grade the syrup.

    I want to reiterate what some have posted.

    Low sugar content. .2%-.7% is where our raw sap ranges. I would not suggest doing it without and RO. The amount of fuel needed to make a gallon is not worth the environmental impact. Also just like maple the longer you boil the more it darkens and it is a potent flavor regardless.

    Again... It is not table syrup... It is not maple syrup. Do not put it on pancakes. It is an ingredient. Don't just take a big swig of it as well. People use vanilla extract to make things taste awesome all the time. I dare you to take a spoonful of vanilla extract and say you like the flavor. Our favorite recipe is to make glaze for Salmon and grill it. (Birch syrup, Garlic, Soy Sauce, lemon juice) but as others said. BBQ sauce and pork glazes are great uses. It is also good in baked products. It is unique flavor and has to be appreciated in the right way.

    I have customers that own restaurants that use about a quart a month for signature dishes. We sell it for $150 a half gallon shipped for these customers. For retail we sell it for $30 for an 8oz bottle shipped. We made 26 gallons a few years ago and have sold out. (400 taps that year)
    Since maple season was a bust and we were out of birch we did tap a few weeks ago when if finally warmed up but we went from snow on the ground to 89 degrees in one week and we managed to make only 4 gallons and are pulling the plug because the yeast growth is very fast and the sap is spoiling. This was an odd spring and now just looking forward to next year for our syrup adventures.

    We boil ours right down to a point from finished right in the evaporator. We try to get the sap to 5-8% with the RO. We also don't lay back on the heat unless it gets too foamy. We have had no success with using pipeline in the past and do all of our birch on buckets. A tap can run anywhere from 1-5+ gallons a day.

    I'm not sure if this answers the original questions but I felt I needed to chime in just for the fact that so many dislike the product and probably have no idea how to use it. A simple spoonful into the mouth will haunt you all day so stop trying it like that.

    If you have a bunch of birch trees and an RO I suggest people try it if they are interested. We spend so much money on equipment for maple it would be nice to have other uses for it. Also if someone has no maple trees but lots of birch, it gives them something they can do in their woods. that is a fun springtime project.

    Side note: We had some friends test making sycamore syrup this year and I'll tell you maple syrup people will enjoy that syrup's flavor. The strange spring made us unsure when the season is for sycamore but more tests will be run in the coming years.
    Millbrook Maple
    Catskill Mountains
    Store - Arkville, NY
    Saphouse - Somewhere in witness protection area.
    2.5 X 8 1990 Grimm Lightning
    600 GPH RO
    2000 Taps and growing each season
    30 Buckets
    Always looking for more sap!

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Two Harbors, Minnesota
    Posts
    118

    Default

    First batch of Birch syrup under my belt. It sure was a lot of work but wow, does it taste good. It has somewhat of a black licorice taste with a bit of lemon. I read somewhere some were discussing calling it something other than syrup. Maybe a Birch sap concentrate? I think the problem with that is, adding water wouldn't bring it back to it's original state.
    I evaporated the sap without allowing it to boil in my 2x6 evaporator pan. It only evaporated about 5 gph. I will use the same set up but will inject air to see if that increases the rate of evaporation. If that works, I will remove the firebrick under the pan and just run a mellow fire under.
    I used an induction cook top to finish the syrup and had it set to 190 F. it took a long time but eventually got it down to 66 on my hydrometer. I then filtered it through an Orlon filter prior to bottling. I noticed a lot of niter in the bottom of the pot. It actually built up and crusted to the pan. It was not burnt though. So, what I don't know is, is that niter needed in the syrup? If I used air injection would it keep that sugar in the finished product? What I will try is using my smaller evaporator with air injection to see if there is a difference.
    Thanks for this site and Dr Tim because my ideas came from all of you.

    _20180507_144708.jpg
    Last edited by billschi; 05-07-2018 at 05:07 PM.
    2016- 32 taps, 3 1/2 gallons
    2017- 150 taps, 13 gallons after building an evaporator
    2018- goal is 240+ taps. 20+ gallons.
    2018 Reality- 235 taps, 5 gallons of syrup. Average 50 birch taps and 3 gallons of syrup.
    2019- 180 maple taps, 20 gallons of finished syrup.
    ~ 160 birch taps, 13 finished gallons of syrup.

    Latitude 47.278150

    www.facebook.com/livingoffmyland2015

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Two Harbors, Minnesota
    Posts
    118

    Default

    Is there a market for Birch syrup? I'm here to tell you, yes there is.
    I went to 6 different places today and sold to 5 out of 6. Restaurants with signature entrees, Gift shops, smoked meat places and bbq joints. Those are the places I went to today and sold ten 8oz bottles for $15 each. Each place I asked if they ever heard of our tasted birch syrup. Not one had ever tried it. I had a sample jar and had them try it. All were surprised but delighted. I had to restrict each to two bottles because of my limited supply at the time. The chefs and the gift shop were the ones who requested more than two bottles.
    Now it's a wait and see to see how much each of them wants more and what quantity. Each of the chefs invited me to the restaurant to eat the dish they come up with. I call this a win.
    I went back to reread this thread, and seen people mentioning about the burnt taste. The way I made this, there is no burnt taste. I went with the understanding that certain sugars burned when over 200 degrees, therefore, I didn't allow mine to reach 200. Yes, it took me a long time to evaporate, but it tastes really good. Not Maple syrup good. It tastes Birch syrup good.
    Last edited by billschi; 05-08-2018 at 10:40 PM.
    2016- 32 taps, 3 1/2 gallons
    2017- 150 taps, 13 gallons after building an evaporator
    2018- goal is 240+ taps. 20+ gallons.
    2018 Reality- 235 taps, 5 gallons of syrup. Average 50 birch taps and 3 gallons of syrup.
    2019- 180 maple taps, 20 gallons of finished syrup.
    ~ 160 birch taps, 13 finished gallons of syrup.

    Latitude 47.278150

    www.facebook.com/livingoffmyland2015

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    poultney vermont
    Posts
    610

    Default

    I watched a friend of ours make it and what's funny is you can't actually boil it, rather simmer. Is that what you've found also?
    18x30 sugarshack
    3500 taps high vac
    3x10 inferno with steampan
    7'' wes fab filter press
    D&G 1000
    300&400 gal stainless concentrate tank
    1-2500
    3-1550's
    4-275's
    more taps to come in '19

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Two Harbors, Minnesota
    Posts
    118

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by blissville maples View Post
    I watched a friend of ours make it and what's funny is you can't actually boil it, rather simmer. Is that what you've found also?
    Yes, that's what I found. I believe if I aerate the sap as it's simmering, I think the bubbles will create more surface area to increase the evaporation rate. I found a thread on this site explaining just that. So I will need to find out if that air needs to be preheated a bit before injection in case it cools the sap down too much. I will also implement an air filter so I'm not pushing dusty air in the sap.
    2016- 32 taps, 3 1/2 gallons
    2017- 150 taps, 13 gallons after building an evaporator
    2018- goal is 240+ taps. 20+ gallons.
    2018 Reality- 235 taps, 5 gallons of syrup. Average 50 birch taps and 3 gallons of syrup.
    2019- 180 maple taps, 20 gallons of finished syrup.
    ~ 160 birch taps, 13 finished gallons of syrup.

    Latitude 47.278150

    www.facebook.com/livingoffmyland2015

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Da E. U.P. of Michigan. 46.16N
    Posts
    187

    Default

    When do you pull taps on birch? If you dont pull the taps before the buds swell, does it make buddy syrup or do you keep collecting until the sap stops running?
    New for 2016 Mason 2x4 XL with AUF blower. No more boiling in stainless steam table trays or pots for me.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Two Harbors, Minnesota
    Posts
    118

    Default

    My new bubbler. It keeps the sap from getting too hot yet increases the evaporation rate.
    I used a copper manifold for in floor heat. The air gets distributed out to 1/2" pipes. I wanted to see if my fan was strong enough to push the air before I used 2 manifolds. I will do that next.
    I tapped another 25 birch trees today and will do another 25 tomorrow. Each tree is giving me 2-4 gallons of sap per day.

    IMG_20180509_171926672.jpg
    Last edited by billschi; 05-09-2018 at 10:10 PM.
    2016- 32 taps, 3 1/2 gallons
    2017- 150 taps, 13 gallons after building an evaporator
    2018- goal is 240+ taps. 20+ gallons.
    2018 Reality- 235 taps, 5 gallons of syrup. Average 50 birch taps and 3 gallons of syrup.
    2019- 180 maple taps, 20 gallons of finished syrup.
    ~ 160 birch taps, 13 finished gallons of syrup.

    Latitude 47.278150

    www.facebook.com/livingoffmyland2015

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Speyside, Canada
    Posts
    122

    Default

    Because of the warmer temperatures the sap is collected at, did you use some type of chiller to keep it cold before boiling?
    2015 - 8 buckets, 332L sap, 8.5L syrup - Barrel evaporator, 2 steam pans
    2016 - 8 buckets, 432L sap
    2017 - 10 bags, 470L sap, 9L syrup
    2018 - 20 bags, 1050L sap, 17.6L syrup

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Two Harbors, Minnesota
    Posts
    118

    Default

    We've been in the 50's and 60's here. I collect sap twice a day and boil the same day. It did get up to 75 the other day and I through the cloudy sap out. Now having this bubbler, I hope to be able to keep up with the flow of the sap. I collect in buckets and store them on the north side of the garage where it's cooler.
    Last edited by billschi; 05-09-2018 at 10:48 PM.
    2016- 32 taps, 3 1/2 gallons
    2017- 150 taps, 13 gallons after building an evaporator
    2018- goal is 240+ taps. 20+ gallons.
    2018 Reality- 235 taps, 5 gallons of syrup. Average 50 birch taps and 3 gallons of syrup.
    2019- 180 maple taps, 20 gallons of finished syrup.
    ~ 160 birch taps, 13 finished gallons of syrup.

    Latitude 47.278150

    www.facebook.com/livingoffmyland2015

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Da E. U.P. of Michigan. 46.16N
    Posts
    187

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by billschi View Post
    My new bubbler. It keeps the sap from getting too hot yet increases the evaporation rate.
    I used a copper manifold for in floor heat. The air gets distributed out to 1/2" pipes. I wanted to see if my fan was strong enough to push the air before I used 2 manifolds. I will do that next.
    I tapped another 25 birch trees today and will do another 25 tomorrow. Each tree is giving me 2-4 gallons of sap per day.

    Attachment 18642
    Looks good. Have you had any issues with the acidity of the birch sap. Almost all of the eductional research stated NOT to use any metals other then stainless due to off flavor. Copper being one of the worst to use.

    Also any answers to my privious question yesterday about when to pull taps would be appreciated, thank you.
    New for 2016 Mason 2x4 XL with AUF blower. No more boiling in stainless steam table trays or pots for me.

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