Collecting silver birch sap in the beginning of spring is a great way to get some extra sugar and clean water into your foraging diet. It does require some minor equipment and some thought and care though.
- Knife – sharp!
- 5L Bottle
- Siphon Tube
- Leaf and Twig or similar devices
Cut a “V” shape into a silver birch tree near the base but not at the bottom. If the sap begins to drip out rapidly, you are doing this at the right time.
Insert the leaf into the base of the V shape and attach it in with a small twig. The sap should collect on the leaf and drip down at the point giving you a great way to direct the sap to where you want it. CAUTION: THIS WILL BE TRICKY!
Attach the siphon tube to the tree underneath using non-permanent tape. Ensure the sap drips into the tube. Place the other end of the tube into the 5L bottle and tape securely in place. Use tape or other shade tools if you think it might rain to prevent rain water getting inside.
Wait a couple of days for the bottle to fill up. This sap is clean, refreshing and a great emergency supply. You can also boil it down for syrup or make it into wine (which we will post about later on).
- Do this at the beginning of spring when the sap rises.
- Try to look after the tree – seal the wound afterwards if possible and keep it clean.
- Don’t keep doing this to the same tree, let it recover (some years).
- The sap should be clear, sometimes with a tint. If it is brown it may be that the tree has a fungal infection and should be avoided.
- Always seek permission form the tree owner of course.