Birch sap is a clear fluid flowing from cut or broken birch trunks and branches under the influence of root pressure. The sap flow of birch sap begins in the spring with the first thaws and continues until the buds open.
Extraction of birch sap. Time, place of collection, storage and medicinal properties of birch sap.
The exact period of birch sap is difficult to establish, because it depends on weather conditions. For example, if during the March thaw the juice already started to flow and then frosts unexpectedly hit, then it may stop being allocated for some time. However, as a rule, the juice begins to run around mid-March, when the snow melts and the buds swell. To determine the beginning of sap flow, it is enough to go out into the forest and make an injection with a thin awl on a birch the thickness of a hand. If the juice has gone, then a drop of juice will immediately appear at the puncture point, so you can start collecting and harvesting it. They stop collecting juice in the second half of April, when the leaves are already blooming.
The most intensive sap flow on the tree occurs in the bright half of the day, so it is better to start collecting in the morning, at night the juice falls asleep. The best time to collect the juice will be the interval between 10.00 and 18.00, when it flows most strongly. The diameter of the tree depends on the number of holes that are recommended to be made, if 20-25 cm, then only one, with a volume of 25-35 cm, two, at 35-40 three, and if the diameter is more than 40 cm, four holes are perfectly acceptable.
The collection of birch sap should begin at the places most warmed by the sun, where the birch wakes up even if there is still snow around. As the forest warms up, one should move deep into the thicket, to where the forest wakes up later than at the southern edge. Usually, 2-3 liters of juice per day are obtained from birch. A large tree can produce about 7 liters of juice per day, and sometimes more. It is preferable to collect juice where cutting is planned, and it is not recommended to take it from young trees.
Due to the fact that the roots of birch go far into the ground, it does not absorb poisons from the surface layer of the soil. Therefore, all places where birch grows are good for collecting birch sap in the same way, however, it is better to collect sap only in ecologically clean forests, because the tree itself can absorb harmful substances and exhaust gases.
How to get birch sap.
The choice of utensils for collecting and storing birch sap must be approached selectively. In the old days, birch sap was collected in special tuesochki from birch bark, it was believed that in them it better retains its properties. But it is quite possible to collect juice in ordinary glass jars or even in plastic bottles, but remember that chemistry is able to give its specific flavor to the juice, and sometimes it dissolves in it itself.
Juice is usually obtained by incising, notching or drilling a tree bark, the diameter of which is not less than 20 cm, with a well-developed crown. It is better to make a hole or hole in the trunk from the south side of the tree, there is sap flow more active, at a distance of 40-50 cm from the ground, downward direction, the movement of your foot should be from bottom to top, the depth of the hole is 2-3 cm to penetrate the dead bark, and if birch is very thick then even deeper.
An aluminum, plastic groove, a tray of birch bark, or another semicircular device, through which juice flows into a container, is inserted into the slot. Sometimes juice is obtained by cutting small branches and attaching a plastic bag to the cut point. No need to seek to drain all the juice from one tree, it compensates for part of it, but if you bleed the tree completely, it can dry out. It is better to take a liter of juice per day from 5-10 trees than to take 5 liters from one, dooming it to death.
After the collection of birch sap is over, you need to take care of the tree itself and tightly cover the holes made with wax, cork or moss so that bacteria that can pose a serious threat to the life of the tree do not get into the trunk. After cutting down birches, juice collection can be organized from stumps..
How to store birch sap.
If you don’t want to drink the juice right away, but want to keep it longer, fill it in a glass jar and refrigerate. So the drink will be less oxidized, that is, deteriorate. However, it is better not to store the juice for longer than 2-3 days, otherwise it will ferment and turn from healing nectar into poison. But if you preserve the juice, then it will stand still a few months.
Several recipes for preserving birch sap for long-term storage.
Fresh birch sap is fermented in glass containers of any volume. Rinsing with hot, preferably boiled, water, they are filled with fresh juice. For every half liter add an incomplete teaspoon of ordinary or glucose sugar, 2-3 raisins, washed in cold boiled water, and if you like a little lemon zest. The container is closed with a cork or lid and fixed with wire or bandages.
The carbon dioxide pressure during fermentation is created quite high, and so that the glass does not burst, putting more than the specified amount of sugar is not recommended. In a few days you will get a pleasant, sour, highly carbonated drink. To preserve the juice, heat the juice in an enamel bowl to a temperature of 80 degrees. Pour into glass bottles and jars. Fill almost to the top and seal with caps and bottles with corks followed by osmolka. Then soak for 15 20 minutes in 85 degrees water for pasteurization..
Making kvass from birch sap.
To preserve birch sap, kvass is made from it. Heat to 35 degrees, add 15-20 g of yeast and 3 raisins per 1 liter, lemon zest can be added to taste. After that, the jar or bottle is tightly closed and left for 1-2 weeks. Kvass can be prepared in another way. To 10 liters of birch juice add the juice of 4 lemons, 50 g of yeast, 30 g of honey or sugar, raisins at the rate of 2-3 things per bottle. Bottle and keep 1-2 weeks in a dark cool place. Kvass can be ready in 5 days already, but because it lasts longer, the drink will not deteriorate, it can be stored for the whole summer.
Another recipe for kvass. A bag of burnt rye bread crusts is lowered on a rope into a barrel of birch sap. After two days, the yeast will pass from the peels to the juice and fermentation will begin. Then a bucket of oak bark is poured into the barrel, as a preservative and tannin, and for the aroma – cherries (berries or leaves) and dill stalks. In two weeks kvass is ready, it can be stored all winter.
Other methods for preserving and preserving birch sap.
Our ancestors drank birch sap, fermented in barrels without added sugar, it was a traditional low-alcohol drink at Russian feasts. Birch sap itself is a pleasant, refreshing and firming drink, but you can add the juice of chokeberry, lingonberry, blueberry or insist on various herbs thyme, chamomile, caraway seeds, linden flowers, rose hips, in a jar covered with gauze for about 2 weeks.
You can add to it infusions of St. John’s wort, mint, lemon balm, pine needles, juice of cherries, apples, currants. Birch sap can be evaporated to thicken to a syrup containing 60% sugar. This syrup has a lemon-white color and a density of honey.
Pour birch juice in Belarusian style into a large bottle and place in a cool dark place for 2-3 days. Then add malt from barley or toasted crushed crackers. For 5 liters of birch sap – 30 g. barley malt or crackers. Balm is also prepared from birch sap. A bucket of juice needs 3 kg of sugar, 2 liters of wine and 4 finely chopped lemons. All this needs to be put in a cellar for two months, and then bottled and kept for another three weeks.
The healing properties of birch sap.
Birch sap contains organic acids, tannins, minerals, iron, potassium, calcium, glucose, fructose, volatile. The use of birch sap helps break down stones in the bladder and kidneys, purify the blood, strengthen metabolic processes, and remove harmful substances from the body in infectious diseases. It is useful to drink juice for stomach ulcers, diseases of the liver, duodenum, gall bladder, low acidity, radiculitis, rheumatism, arthritis, bronchitis, tuberculosis, scurvy, headache and sexually transmitted diseases.
Birch sap increases the body’s resistance to colds, infectious and allergic diseases, has an anthelmintic, diuretic, antitumor effect, it is useful to wipe the skin with birch sap for eczema, acne, to moisturize and cleanse dry skin. On the skin, it is very good to apply the following mask: mix 1 tbsp. l sour cream with 2 tbsp. l birch sap and 1 tsp. honey. You need to hold such a mask for about 15 minutes, rinse with cool water, the skin after it will get a beautiful matte shade.
And birch sap is useful to wash your hair with dandruff, to enhance their growth and the appearance of shine and softness (the infusion of birch leaves has the same property). Birch sap is a good remedy for impotence. Birch tears have a very good effect on people during menopause, if you drink at least a glass of juice a day, then drowsiness, a feeling of tiredness, irritability and other phenomena related to menopause disappear.
The systematic intake of birch sap has a restorative and tonic effect. Birch sap is contraindicated for those who are allergic to birch pollen. For medicinal purposes, birch sap should be drunk fresh. It is recommended to take 1 glass 3 times a day for 20-30 minutes before meals for 2-3 weeks.