How To Make Pancake Syrup … From Birch Trees

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How To Make Pancake Syrup … From Birch Trees

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Birch syrup is an alternative to maple syrup that is commonly grown across the northern United States, Canada and in northern Europe. While other birch products such as birch beer might seem more commonplace, birch syrup is a hot commodity, fetching over $30 per 250ml bottle in some locations. It is high in vitamins and minerals, and even can be used as a tonic.

Best yet? Birch syrup can be easily produced on any homestead with an abundance of birch trees, and if you’re already tapping maples, you don’t need to give that up. The two can be tapped concurrently, and the equipment needed is identical for both.

Tapping

Birch tapping generally follows the maple sugar season, in mid-March to mid-April. This depends, of course, on the weather, as sap begins to run before the buds on the trees change to leaves. Nights must be below freezing while days must rise well above freezing, usually around 40 or 50 degrees. Although this freeze-thaw cycle is the same as what is required for maple trees, maples don’t require daytime temperatures to rise quite as much.

The best birch trees are ones that live in an isolated area. Try not to tap trees that have been exposed to pesticides or other contaminants, such as those that are growing alongside the road. These trees can carry unwanted toxins in their sap.

There is little equipment you need to get started making birch syrup, although, as with maple products, you can purchase more expensive and sophisticated materials as you gain experience. You will need some sort of spile, either handmade or commercial. Spiles used for maple sugaring can also be used on birch trees.

You will also need a cordless drill and a bit that matches the end of the spile. Additionally, you will need a collection container if you aren’t planning on setting up a more sophisticated tubing and vacuum system (again, not recommended until you gain experience after a few seasons). Make sure whatever you use for collection is sterile and has some sort of cover. If not covered, the sweet-smelling sap can attract unwanted insects and collect debris.

Place one tap per tree, ignoring trees that are less than eight inches but larger than 14 inches in diameter. One tap per tree ensures that the tree has adequate resources to heal. In addition, don’t plug the holes after the season has ended, as this can impede healing. If you want your trees to produce year after year, you must take good care of them and not overtax their resources!

The tap should be placed slightly below eye level, around four feet up from the base of the tree. Don’t tap an old tap hole on the tree, and try to stay six or seven inches away from old taps if possible. The best spot to tap is in a shady spot on the south side of the tree.

Make sure all of your surfaces and materials are sanitized before beginning to tap. Using a sharp drill bit, drill upwards into the tree at a 25 degree angle, about one inch into the tree. This will allow the sap to utilize gravity as it moves into your container.

Place your spile into the hole and tap gentle with a mallet or hammer. Sap should begin running from the sap in a light drip once it is placed. If you don’t see any sap, you might want to tap a different tree. Situate your collection container or bucket beneath the tap.

Generally, a birch tree will produce around a gallon of sap per day. Make sure your container has at least a one-gallon capacity, or you risk losing valuable sap as it seeps from an overfilled bucket. Don’t place your bucket on the ground, as this will be easily spilled.

While it may be tempting to collect sap only every few days when your spring chores get the better of you, you need to make this item a fixture on your daily to-do list. If left too long, sap begins to ferment and adopts a strange flavor.

Making Syrup

When you have about 25 gallons of sap, you’re ready to make syrup. This sap is less sweet than maple syrup, so it takes over twice the amount of sap to produce a gallon of birch syrup as it does maple syrup. Twenty-five gallons of birch sap will produce roughly one quart. Therefore, each tree will produce about one quart over a season.

Although sap accumulates somewhat slowly, you must evaporate sap as you collect it. Sugar in birch sap can be easily caramelized if you evaporate it too quickly. As a result, you must evaporate slowly, unlike maple sap which is boiled more intensely.

Unless you have a sugar shack — which you likely don’t, unless you’re already actively involved in making maple syrup — you can make birch syrup right on your stove top. Ten gallons of sap will process down to about two cups. Use a stock pot, and keep the sap cold until it’s ready to be processed (generally within 24 hours).

Filter the sap through a coffee filter before pouring it into a stock pot. Boil the syrup rapidly, but keep a watchful eye on it to prevent scorching. Once it’s reduced by about half, slow the evaporation to a simmer. Keep the temperature just below boiling, and when the sap has been reduced to about a quarter of its original volume, move it to a slow cooker. Leave it overnight on low to complete evaporation.

A hydrometer will help you determine the density of the syrup. While it won’t be quite as thick as maple syrup, it will register a 66 or 67 on the brix scale. If you are slightly off, that’s okay — it might have a slightly odd flavor but is still safe to eat. Filter the syrup through a coffee filter again, then bottle in sterilized mason jars. This can be stored at room temperature, but opened jars must be refrigerated.

Birch syrup is highly versatile and can be used in multiple recipes. It makes an excellent glaze or as an addition to coffee or dessert. You’ll quickly find yourself wishing that you had more birch trees on your property, because once your friends and family get a taste of this delicious nectar, you won’t have much left over for yourself!

What advice would you add? Have you ever tapped a tree? Leave your tips in the section below:

7 Ways The Old-Timers Knew It Was Time To Tap

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7 Ways The Old-Timers Knew It Was Time To Tap

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Tapping trees to make syrup is an annual late-winter-into-spring tradition for many homesteaders. One of the keys to a successful syruping season is timing, and as is true with many homesteading activities, timing is all about the weather.

Nowadays, we have weather satellite information readily available at the touch of a screen, and can easily find charts of predicted weather to determine the best time to set our taps.

But satellite weather reports have not always been available. Old-timers used alternative sources to determine when was the best time for tapping trees for sap.

Here are seven ways they did that:

1. Day length. For the first weeks after the solstice in December, the day length grows so slowly that it’s barely discernable. As the equinox approaches, daylight begins to increase dramatically. Rapidly lengthening days told early homesteaders that tapping season was around the corner.

2. Sun height in the sky. During winter in the north, the sun slides east to west across the southern horizon. As warmer months approach, the sun’s daily traverse reaches higher into the sky. Sunrise gradually occurs more toward the east than in the southeast, sunsets are more to the west than the southwest, and the sun is higher in the sky during the day.

3. Warm days and cold nights. Old-timers could follow the temperature trends with or without a thermometer. It goes without saying that they could tell how warm or cold it was by going outside and feeling the air on their skin, but they could probably also get a sense of the temperature just by looking out the window. They could get a feel for the weather by the way the wood stove and chimney smoke behaved, the way livestock’s breath fogged up (or didn’t fog up), frost on roofs of outbuildings and neighbor houses, and the amount of ice clinging to the branches of trees.

4. Snow texture. When the temperature rises and falls, the snow gets grainy. Some folks may have called it “corn snow” in their day. People who spend a lot of time on snow can easily discern a lot about atmospheric conditions by the feel and sound of the snow, and I suspect our ancestors were better at it than we were. The warmth of the sun on long sunny days turns the snowpack to mealy mush, which then becomes granular when the nighttime temperatures plummet.

5. Dripping branches. Branches that have broken off due to wind or ice, or lopped off by a snowplow blade, will begin to drip when the sap is starting to run. This can be so dramatic that it’s visible driving past in a car, but syrupers in years past probably saw more close-up evidence as they went about their regular chores on the homestead.

6. Sap-drenched tree trunks. Any break in the bark of a standing tree will allow sap to run out, sometimes so abundantly that it looks like someone left a faucet turned on up high on the tree. I’ve often admired the glistening trunks of late-winter maples while on my snowshoe travels, and I expect the old-timers must have, too.

7. Sappy sawblades. Cutting into a live tree while the sap is running will result in a wet sawblade, whether it’s a modern chainsaw or an old-fashioned two-man crosscut.

These are likely to be some of the ways that our forbears could tell it was time to think about setting taps in trees and preparing to make syrup, and might well be some of the sure signs of tapping season that many people still observe today.

For my own small-scale backyard syruping operation, I use a combination of convenient online predictions and old-fashioned observations. However, probably the method I use most is none of the above. When I see lines and buckets up and running in other people’s maple groves, I know the time has come to run home and dig out my tapping supplies! This might sound a little slapdash, but a day or two either way does not make that much difference. And since large-scale outfits often use vacuum equipment which allows them to begin harvesting sap earlier than those relying on gravity, leaving plenty of time for me to get my taps set after noticing commercial operations already up and running.

I always say that one of the best things about homesteading in the 21st century is that we have the luxury to having both old-time practices and cutting-edge technology available. When it comes to setting taps for backyard syrup operations, using wisdom from the old-timers is a great way to start.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Can Non-Maple Trees Be Tapped For Syrup? Yes!

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Can Non-Maple Trees Be Tapped For Syrup? Yes!

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Tapping trees for sap and making homemade syrup is an easy and delicious component of being a homesteader and raising one’s own food. The three issues that often stymy beginners, however, revolve around the trees themselves.

People new to tapping often struggle with being able to tell sugar maples from other maples, discerning which trees are maples as opposed to other deciduous trees, and wondering what to do even when they can differentiate between trees but do not have access to maples.

It’s Not Just Sugar Maples … And Not Just Maples!

So, what if there are no sugar maples? The good news: It might not matter.  Trees vary greatly by region and even by individual trees. This means that the red maple in your yard might produce better quality sap with a higher sugar content than your neighbor’s sugar maple, in the same way that your yellow Labrador dog might outrun your neighbor’s greyhound.

The best way to know is to try it. When in doubt, tap it and taste the sap. I happen to have a big old sugar maple that gives sap with a bitter taste, and a red maple which is excellent for syruping. Pretty much any maple can be used for syrup. If the sap tastes good, try boiling it down. And if it turns out to be worth the effort, put a marker on the tree so that you can identify it for future use.

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Even better news is that trees other than maples can be used to make delicious syrup. Birches, particularly yellow and gray species, make an excellent syrup, even though the sap has a lower sugar content and must be boiled down for longer than that of most maples. Many sources say walnut and hornbeam trees also make good choices for syrup.

As with any endeavor, remember to keep safe and avoid trying the sap of trees that contain any toxic components.

How to Tell the Difference

Telling the difference between trees, especially, during winter, is admittedly tricky at tapping time. The best way to know whether a maple tree is a sugar maple or a red maple or some other species of maple is often by the shape of their leaves or the color of their flowers. Unfortunately, when it’s time to tap for syrup, the leaves and flowers are long gone. It is possible that the leaves are on the ground under the tree, and it is even slightly possible that there is adequate distance between trees that it can be determined which tree the leaves fell from. But it is also likely that whatever leaves are present are buried under a foot or more of snow and ice. If you can tell by the leaves which kind of tree you have, using Internet photos or a field guide, do that.

Otherwise, try examining the bark. Mature red maples and silver maples tend to have a scalier texture than sugar maples, and do not have the light-colored splotches that sugar maples sometimes can.

Can Non-Maple Trees Be Tapped For Syrup? Yes!

Walnut tree. Image source: Pixabay.com

The best way for small homestead syruping operations to ensure they are using sugar maples for spring tapping is to identify them ahead of time. The flowers and fruit — often called “spinners” or “wings” — are distinctive among maple species, as well as the leaves. Anyone considering tapping trees would do well to do their research in advance and mark the trees, using colored survey tape or marker flags, or even a hand-drawn map if there are enough trees.

Distinguishing Maples From Other Deciduous Trees

As with differentiating between species of maples, telling one genus of deciduous tree — often called hardwoods — from another can be challenging, as well, and for most of the same reasons.  However, there is generally a more easily discernable difference between the bark textures and colors, sizes and basic growing habits between one tree genus and another.

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Using the process of elimination can help. Paper birches are easy to discern by their bark. Other birch species and many ash trees hang onto their leaves long into the winter and sometimes even until the spring buds start pushing, so it is very likely that they would still have a leaf or two attached to the tree or on top of the snow beneath it.  American beech trees often have a beech bark disease that makes their trunks covered with distinctive cankers.

Other trees sometimes have particular shapes or growing habits which make them discernable from sugar maples. For example, bear in mind that the branches of willows droop, and cherry trees are often twisted and gnarly. Red maples and silver maples are more likely to be found in swampy areas than are sugar maples.

While these points do not result in a definitive identification, they can at least narrow the pool of possibilities and thereby decrease time spent poring over field manuals and online guidebooks.

Tapping trees for sap need not be complicated. As with anything, it makes sense to start with the basics, continue to learn through a combination of trial and error and research with each season, and enjoy the tasty results.

Have you ever tapped a non-Maple tree? Share your tapping advice in the section below:

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Maple Trees: Which Types Are Best For Firewood, Syrup, Shade & Foliage?

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Maple Trees: Which Types Are Best For Firewood, Syrup, Shade & Foliage?

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Maple trees or shrubs can be found on several continents around the world, but these useful plants have a special place in the hearts and lives of those of us in the United States and Canada. We love them for many purposes: shade, ornamentals, lumber, firewood and syrup.

Homesteaders use maples and other hardwood trees for most of the above purposes as well as for projects more specific to farming and independent living — saplings for bean poles and poultry perches and other craftwork, leaves for banking buildings, and more. Sometimes it is important to differentiate between species. But even when the particular species does not matter, it is always nice to have some knowledge about any maple trees surrounding the homestead.

Sugar Maple

Of the many types of maple tree in North America, one of the best known and most loved is the sugar maple. Known as a rock maple, hard maple, or its Latin nomenclature Acer saccharum, this tree can be found growing naturally in most of the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada.

The sugar maple is prized for its sap, which is harvested in early spring and boiled down into maple syrup or further processed into maple cream or candy. This tree is most people’s first choice for maple syrup, even though other varieties of maples—as well as other genera of hardwood trees—can be and often are tapped for syrup and confections. The sap of the sugar maple generally takes the least time and energy to boil down, requiring 40 quarts of sap to render one quart of finished syrup. The sap-to-syrup ratio for other trees can be as high as 80:1, making the sugar maple a more economical and practical choice. The taste of sugar maple sap is often considered superior, as well, and it is the most plentiful maple species in some areas.

Maple Trees: Which Types Are Best For Firewood, Syrup, Shade & Foliage?

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In addition to syrup production, the sugar maple is often harvested for its wood value. It is prized for flooring and furniture stock, particularly “bird’s eye” or curly-patterned varieties, and is commonly used for firewood and occasionally for pulp.

Sugar maples also make lovely landscaping trees. These medium-sized trees with widespread roots make excellent shade trees, provide wildlife habitat, and display stunning multicolored fall foliage.

Red Maple

Another common maple species is the red maple, or Acer rubrum. Known also as the swamp, water or soft maple, this tree can be found across most of eastern North America. It is frequently tapped for syrup, sometimes intentionally and sometimes by accident. Some red maples offer a sap ratio that is similar to sugar maples and just as tasty, and it can be challenging to tell the trees apart without leaves or buds present for clues. The subtle differences in the bark are challenging for most people to discern.

As the nicknames suggest, red maples do not mind wet feet and are often found in swampy areas. They display brilliant foliage twice a season — once in the spring with stunning red flowers, some of the earliest in my region of New England — and again in fall with gorgeous scarlet and orange leaves.

Their fiber is softer than that of sugar maples, making them less prized for their wood overall but still often used for firewood and pulp. A good all-around homestead tree, red maples also make wonderful ornamentals and animal habitat.

Silver Maple

Silver maple, or Acer saccharinum, is known by many other names, including creek, soft, water, white and silverleaf maple. This large tree is native to most of the central and eastern United States, and often cultivated far beyond that, making it an extremely common maple species. The silver maple can be easily identified by its distinctive leaves, which look more like a five-toed chicken foot than the classic maple leaf of the Canadian flag. This tree is often found along riverbanks and at the edges of wetlands.

The silver maple’s fiber is relatively soft and less durable than harder species, making it less sought-after for wood, but is a mainstay for landscaping in public parks and private yards. As with most maple species, it can be tapped for syrup as availability requires. It sports soft yellow foliage in fall and delicate clusters of spring flowers in shades of yellow or pink.

Striped Maple

Acer pensylvanicum, commonly known as the striped maple or moosewood, can be found from the eastern provinces of Canada to the upper elevations of northern Georgia. This is a smaller variety of maple, sometimes no larger than a shrub, which thrives in the understory. It prefers hillsides and rocky slopes and is usually found in forests of predominantly hardwood but does sometimes mix with conifers.

The white and green stripes of the striped maple bark distinguish it from other maple species. Its goose-foot-shaped leaves turn pale yellow in autumn, and its spring flowers are bright yellow.

The striped maple’s primary value is aesthetic, but it adds broad dimension and wildlife support to natural forests and managed areas. It grows quickly and can be considered a nuisance tree when allowed to grow out of control.

Mountain Maple

The mountain maple, or Acer spicatum, is also a small bushy species found in northern regions of the eastern United States and Canada. Like the striped maple, this type of maple grows in dense thickets on wet slopes. It is of little value to humans, but provides superb cover and forage for a wide variety of forest wildlife.

Boxelder

The Acer negundo, also known as ashleaf maple or boxelder, is another smaller species of maple. It can be found across much of the eastern two-thirds of the continent and in pockets everywhere in North America. Fast-growing and short-lived, the boxelder can thrive in a variety of conditions and takes hold so quickly that it is considered invasive in some areas. Boxelder leaves look more like that of an ash tree than a maple — obovate and small-toothed — hence the name.

Boxelders can be tapped for syrup and are often planted as ornamentals, but are of marginal value for other uses. The wood is light and soft, and can be harvested for pulp.

Bigleaf Maple

Acer macrophyllum

Image source: Wikimedia

Acer macrophyllum is aptly described by its common names, bigleaf maple and Oregon maple.  This large tree with leaves that can span nearly a foot across is found along the Pacific northwest coast, from Alaska to California and as far inland as Idaho.

The bigleaf maple has many uses. Its dense wood is prized for furniture stock as well as for smaller fine-woodworking products such as guitar bodies, piano frames, gun stocks and veneer. It provides great browse for animals, particularly in the sapling stage, and grows into a beautiful shade tree. Its sap-to-syrup ratio is similar to that of the sugar maple, making it feasible for syruping, but does taste somewhat different from its east coast counterpart.

Bigleaf maple foliage turns to brilliant golds and yellows in fall, and boasts showy yellow flowers in spring.

Norway Maple

The Norway maple, or Acer platanoides, is not native to North America, and is generally considered to be invasive. Often planted in yards, parks and along sidewalks for its aesthetic and shade qualities, it has escaped into the forest across much of the United States.

Once in the wild, the Norway maple crowds out native plants. It is fast-growing in a wide variety of conditions, has shallow roots that suck moisture away from other plants, and its dense canopy prevents understory vegetation from thriving.

Probably the most distinctive and attractive feature of the Norway maple is its purple leaves. However, the leaf color does not carry over to offspring, resulting in an overabundance of aggressive plain green maple trees with which native flora cannot compete.

Norway maples have very little practical value beyond ornamentation, but can be used for firewood in lieu of better quality choices.

Whether you value trees for syrup, beauty, firewood, lumber, shade or animal habitat, there is sure to be a maple species that is just right for your needs. The maple tree has served homesteaders, suburban residents, forest workers, and nature enthusiasts for generations, and will continue for years to come.

Which is your favorite type of maple tree? Share your thoughts on maples in the section below:

22 TREES THAT CAN BE TAPPED FOR SAP AND SYRUP

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22 TREES THAT CAN BE TAPPED FOR SAP AND SYRUP

When winter wanes and spring approaches, wild foodists all across North America tap into the time-honored tradition of sugar production – mainly, the transformation of M sap into maple syrup and sugar.  This process, passed on from the Native Americans to the early settlers, is still quite popular today, and is responsible for one of the few wild foods that can be purchased commercially in most supermarkets.

Most people associate syrup with the maple tree, and although much of today’s syrup does originate from the sugar maple, all species of maple can be tapped.  Even better, many other trees from other genera can be tapped to extract sap, which ultimately can be turned into delicious syrup.

In this post, I won’t be discussing the methods involved in tapping for sugar production.  If you are unfamiliar with the process, there are a variety of great websites, videos, and books to guide you.  Rather, I would like to provide a list of various trees (maples, birches, walnuts, etc.) that you can tap successfully to yield wonderful, sugary products.

Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)
The sugar maple yields the highest volume and concentration of sap, making it a superior candidate for tapping.  Its sugar content is approximately 2.0%.

Black maple (Acer nigrum)
Black maples produce as much sweet sap as sugar maples.  The trees closely resemble sugar maples and can be distinguished by their leaves.  Black maples tend to have leaves with three major lobes, while leaves from sugar maples have five lobes.

Red maple (Acer rubrum)
Sap yields from red maples are generally lower than those from sugar maples, although some tapping operations utilize only red maples.  The trees bud out earlier in the spring, which may reduce syrup quality near the end of sugaring season.

Silver maple (Acer saccharinum)
Like red maples, silver maples bud out earlier in the spring and have a lower sugar content than sugar maples (1.7% compared to 2.0%).

Norway maple (Acer platanoides)
Native to Europe, Norway maples are now considered invasive throughout much of the United Sates.  They are not as sweet as sugar maples, yet can be tapped regardless.

Boxelder (Acer negundo)
Also known as Manitoba maple, boxelders can be found growing in urban areas and along roadsides.  They’re not recommended as a first choice for sugar production, although maple producers in the Canadian prairies rely almost exclusively on boxelders for their sap.  Research suggests that boxelders may yield only half the syrup of typical sugar maples.

Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum)
Bigleaf maple is the main species of maple growing between central California and British Columbia.  Native Americans have tapped these trees for centuries, and although the sugar content and sap flow are less than those from sugar maples, these trees can still provide a commercially viable source of syrup for the Pacific Coast.


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Canyon maple, big tooth maple (Acer grandidentatum)
These trees are found primarily throughout the Rocky Mountain states.  They also grow in Texas, where they are referred to as Uvalde bigtooth maples.  The sugar content is comparable to that of sugar maples, but the volume produced is much less.

Rocky Mountain maple (Acer glabrum)
Rocky Mountain maples are native to western North America, and have been used traditionally by various groups, including the Plateau Natives.

Gorosoe (Acer mono)
Gorosoe, which translates to “The tree that is good for the bones,” is the most commonly tapped maple tree in Korea.  The sap is usually consumed fresh as a beverage, and not boiled down to a syrup.

Butternut, white walnut (Juglans cinerea)
The butternut produces a sap that yields roughly 2% sugar – similar to sugar maples.  The timing and total volume of sap are also comparable to sugar maples.

Black walnut (Juglans nigra)
The black walnut tree is a valuable timber species, whose sap flows in autumn, winter, and spring.  It is more common in the Midwest than in the Northeastern United States.

Heartnut (Juglans ailantifolia)
A cultivar of Japanese walnuts, heartnuts have sugar contents comparable to sugar maples, but produce much less sap.

English walnut (Juglans regia)
These are the walnuts commonly eaten and purchased from supermarkets.  They are not typically found in the Eastern United States, but rather are grown most abundantly in California.  English walnut trees can be tapped successfully, especially when subjected to a freezing winter and spring.

Paper birch (Betula papyrifera)
The paper birch has a lower sugar content than sugar maple (less than 1%), but is the sweetest of the birch trees.

Yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis)
The yellow birch tree has been found to have a higher mineral composition, lower sugar content, and a higher ORAC value (measure of antioxidant capacity) than sugar maple.

Black birch (Betula lenta)
Native to eastern North America, black birch is most popular for its use in making birch beer.  And, as this list suggests, the black birch can be tapped.

River birch (Betula nigra)
Found growing abundantly in the southeastern United States, and planted as an ornamental in the Northeast, the river birch can successfully be tapped.

Gray birch (Betula populifolia)
Gray birch is more of a shrub than a tree, but may be tapped if it grows large enough.

European white birch (Betula pendula)
Native to Europe, and grown as an ornamental in urban and suburban areas of the United States, European white birch can be tapped.

Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
Native to North America, the sycamore tree has a lower sugar content than sugar maple, yet is reported to produce a syrup that exudes a butterscotch flavor.

Ironwood, hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)
These trees produce a sap later in the spring, although the sugar content and volume are much less than those from birch trees.

And there you have it – a list of 22 trees that can be tapped.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, as other trees surely produce a sap that can be extracted through tapping.  It is, however, a good representation of the most commonly tapped trees, including those that have been used traditionally for centuries, and some that are just recently gaining in popularity.

If you are fortunate to have access to any of the aforementioned trees – and the trees are healthy – explore the traditional art of sugar production by learning and participating in this beautiful craft.

 

Source : wildfoodism.com

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The 4-Ingredient Elderberry Syrup That Destroys The Cold & Flu

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The 4-Ingredient Elderberry Syrup That Destroys The Cold & Flu

Image source: TheDabblist / Creative Commons license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

There are several varieties of elderberry grown throughout the world, but the medicinal herb we want for its powerful cold- and flu-fighting powers is European black elderberry, or Sambucus nigra L.

Elder is a shrub that originates in Europe, Asia and Africa, and it has dark black berries and small white flowers. Medicinal uses of the elder plant go back centuries. Remnants of the plant have been found in stone age sites, and the plant was referenced in writings by Pliny the Elder and Hippocrates.

Almost all parts of the elder plant were used in ancient times. The wood was used for making instruments. The flowers and berries were used for medicine.

Of course, elderberry can be grown and harvested in your own yard. If you choose to do this, make sure the elderberry plant you grow is the correct type. The varieties native to the United States are not the same as black elderberries that are used in herbal remedies. If you do not have your own elderberry plant, you can buy the dried elderberries and use them to make your own herbal medicines.

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Elderberries are high in vitamins A, B and C and have antioxidant, antiviral and other healthy properties.

A Word of Caution

Elderberries contain seeds that contain a toxic chemical, but cooking the berries removes the toxicity. Elderberries can be prepared in many ways, including in teas, syrups and tinctures. One of the great benefits of most elderberry preparations is that they are safe for children as well as for adults.

Medicinal Recipes

This winter, why not make your own elderberry medicine? Following are two recipes that can help keep your family healthy.

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

Elderberry is easily made into a syrup that can be used not only as a medicine but also on pancakes and ice cream. This syrup can last several months when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. In addition to water, it contains only four ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cold water
  • 2 cups dried elderberries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root or dried ginger root
  • Raw local honey

Directions

  1. Put the berries, herbs and cold water in a pot and boil.
  2. Reduce heat and simmer the mixture for about 45 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and mash the berries.
  4. Allow mixture to cool and strain the liquid with cheesecloth, making sure to squeeze out all of the juice.
  5. Measure the liquid and add an equal amount of honey.
  6. Gently heat the mixture until the honey and juice are combined. Do not let it boil.

Dosage

The 4-Ingredient Elderberry Syrup That Destroys The Cold & Flu

Image source: Pixabay.com

For children, take ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon per day. For adults, take ½ tablespoon to 1 tablespoon per day. If you have a cold or the flu, take the normal dosage every three hours for the duration of your illness.

Elderberry Gummies

These gummies are fantastic and are great for children who don’t want to take medicine when they are sick. The little gummies are sweet and tart and are like eating a fruit snack or fun candy. They also can be taken daily to boost your immune system.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup elderberry syrup
  • ½ cup hot water
  • ¼ cup gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil for greasing your pan
  • Glass pan or silicone molds

Directions

  1. Grease molds or pan with coconut oil.
  2. Put ¼ cup elderberry syrup and gelatin in a 2 cup measuring cup and whisk together.
  3. Add ½ cup hot, but not boiling, water, and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add the remaining elderberry syrup and stir until completely smooth.
  5. Pour gelatin mixture into your molds.
  6. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until they are completely set.
  7. Remove them from the molds and store in an airtight container.

Dosage

Eat one gummy daily to boost your immune system. If you have a cold or the flu, eat one every 4-5 hours throughout the day.

If you have chronic health problems or are taking any medications, please consult with your doctor before using herbal medicines.

Have you ever used elderberry? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below: 

*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or cure any particular health condition. Please consult with a qualified health professional first about this method.

References:

Bond, Carol. History of Elder. Retrieved from http://www.herballegacy.com/Bond_History.html. Retrieved on Nov. 21, 2016.

De la Forêt, Rosalee. “Elderberry Gummy Bear Recipe.” Retrieved from http://learningherbs.com/remedies-recipes/gummy-bear-recipe/. Retrieved on Nov. 21, 2016.

“Does Black Elderberry Syrup Really Fight Cold and Flu Viruses?” Retrieved from http://www.homemadehints.com/black-elderberry-syrup-extract-benefits/. Retrieved on Nov. 21, 2016.

“Flu-Busting Gummy Bears.” Retrieved from http://wellnessmama.com/4599/flu-busting-gummy-bears/. Retrieved on Nov. 21, 2016.

“How to Make Elderberry Syrup.” Retrieved from http://mountainroseblog.com/elderberry-syrup-recipe/. Retrieved on Nov. 21, 2016.

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