We just debuted our birch syrup swirl flavor, a true Alaskan delight. I’d always envisioned birch syrup as something akin to maple syrup—and, I guess, the process is similar. Tap a tree, collect the watery sap and heavily reduce it to yield a sweet, dark liquid. However, whereas it usually takes 40-50 gallons of maple sap to produce one gallon of syrup, it takes 110 gallons of birch sap! And, I was surprised to find that the flavor of birch syrup was almost like a light, Alaskan molasses.
We stumbled upon Bridge Creek Birch Syrup through various friend connections in Homer, AK. Owners Jake and Anna are in their 4th year with the operation, though they have lifetimes of experience! Jake grew up in Homer and used to dabble with making syrup with his mom on their wood stove. Anna is from western New York, where she mad maple syrup all her life as part of a small family business.
Anna told me a bit about the birch syrup process:
“As the ground slowly thaws out each out, the birch trees begin to draw stored nutrients carried by water with the goal of forming leaves. This faintly sweet mixture is birch sap. In the small window of time between spring thaw and budding leaves (15-24 days) we tap the Kenai birch. Every day we go around and collect the sap from all of the many trees we have tapped. This laborious process involves a system of tubing, buckets, barrels, sap bags, and water tanks.
After morning collection, we deliver the daily hundreds of gallons of sap to our Bridge Creek sugar shop where we continue the process. Here we have a 2’ x 6’ wood-fired evaporator. The sap is then pumped into numerous holding tanks where it will then be gravity fed into the evaporator throughout the day. Boiling in drop flue pans, from a 2,000 degree fire, the sap is constantly being concentrated into syrup. The faster the sap is processed, the higher the quality of the final syrup product. The average sugar content of our birch sap here in Homer is .9% which yields an average of one gallon of pure syrup to every 110 gallons of birch sap.”
We’re thrilled to be able to use a 100% pure birch syrup in our ice cream, and we think you’ll love it!
Thanks to Anna for photos.