Category Archives: syrup

Harvesting Anchorage: Birch Tree Tapping

This summer my goal is to gather or harvest at least one plant a month. Usually I gather fiddlehead ferns and fireweed shoots in May, pick wild strawberries in June (I can’t disclose my secret spot!), hunt for boletes in the mid/late summer and harvest berries in the fall.

When UAF Cooperative Extension Service tweeted about birch tree tapping in mid-April, I knew I had to start my harvesting season early. I texted my good friend Ivan, knower of all things apian, and he told me I could find spiles, or birch tree taps, at Alaska Mill & Feed. I have several big birches in my yard, so it was worth a try!

With just a little hardware and a whole lot of stove time, you can have your own homemade birch syrup (I still haven’t reached syrup state, but you’ll see what I came up with in the meantime if you read below). I didn’t take step-by-step photos only because they would be pretty boring. It’s a lot of boiling. Follow this handy guide for a complete explanation.

Please keep in mind that I’ve never done this before, so I have no idea whether I’m doing it incorrectly. The instructions below is what worked for us. Let me know if you use a different/better technique!

Birch tree tapping | Make your own birch syrup | Alaskaknitnat.com

Birch Tree Tapping in Anchorage

Materials:

  • 2 or more 7/16″ birch tree spiles ($5.99 each at Alaska Mill & Feed)
  • 7/16″ drill bit
  • Power drill
  • Rubber mallet
  • 2 or more 2-gallon buckets
  • 3 or more 5-gallon buckets
  • Tall kitchen bags
  • Pushpins
  • Wire sieve
  • Two large soup pots
  • Small saucepan
  • Cheesecloth
  • Lots of freezer space
  • Candy thermometer

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