Yesterday the husband, child and I went Birch tapping! I wasn’t sure whether the sap would be rising round these parts given that so far this year I’ve seen more growth on a prepubescent chin! But God be praised, it’s a miracle. The sap had indeed risen. Like Jesus but more liquidy and nutritious 🙂
First obstacle of the day was knowing what a Birch tree looks like. I know, fucking amateurs, right?
I know what a silver Birch tree looks like but didn’t know what a ‘normal’ Birch tree looked like. Is that weird? Thanks to the wonder that is ‘the internet’ we managed to suss it out. There’s a big silver Birch forest near where we live so we figured we’d head there.
Only thing about this forest is that it also happens to be a paintball area. So that’s fun. Kinda adds an extra element of danger to the whole thing when in the background you can hear guns and men shouting. You know, you can pretend it’s a zombie apocalypse or some shit. If you’re bored or whatever. Not that you’d likely go Birch tapping in a zombie apocalypse. Unless it was the tail end of one and there was only the odd zombie floating about. But also, if you were out of water I guess you’d maybe risk it…
I’m getting carried away with this now.
So I gleaned my birch tapping technique from a forage with Mark from Galloway Wild Foods. There are about twelve billion ‘how to’ videos on youtube.
We got to our first Birch tree. Mark had said to go for a tree with a bit of girth. Our trees were a bit ungirthy <—– not a word (should be).
We weren’t on the ball equipment-wise. You can buy proper professional tapping gear called Spiles (here’s what they look like) but I hadn’t got my finger out my arse quickly enough to order any. That’s funny, spiles, finger out my arse. Get it?
We used a small, sharp screw-driver, some bits of straw, plastic milk bottles to capture the sap and sellotape (did I say amateurs already?) to attach the bottle to the tree.
We tapped three trees in all. The first was a breeze. It was almost too easy. Bloody Birch trees and their false sense of security!
We tapped about 2-3 feet from the ground and about an inch or two in to the tree until we could see the sap trickling out. I won’t lie, it felt kinda nasty. I know it’s not meant to hurt the tree but sticking a sharp pointy thing in it does feel a bit harsh. I put the straw in the hole and sure enough out came the sap. We attached the bottle and Bob was surely our Uncle.
Second tree, bit more faffy but after a bit of jiggery-pokery with the straw, job done. I was ten kinds of chuffed with myself.
Third tree was the tree from hell, sent by tree Satan himself. I ended up making two holes in this tree before cursing everyone and their dog and moving on to another. For the record, I’m the most impatient person in not only this Universe, but every single Universe that exists or is yet to exist. Fun.
But seriously, it was really good fun. I felt like I’d moved up a level forager-wise. You know, actually doing a proper forager thing. Everyone should have a go!
If you’re gonna do it, make sure you know how to do it properly and how to treat the hole afterwards. There’s mixed information on the best way to repair the hole with some people saying to seal it back up and others saying to leave it alone. Confusing. Mark did repair the hole he made with some clean cork.
I’m going back to collect the bottles tomorrow. Would’ve gone today but too busy.
Our plans for the Birch water and to drink it straight and probably freeze some in ice-cube trays. I’m not interested in making Birch syrup or wine or shit like that. Can’t.be.arsed.
Keepin’ it real.