Would You Like Maple Syrup or…Birch!?
You may think we’re total saps to even suggest it, but there’s a chance — slight, perhaps — that one day you’ll swap out your maple syrup for birch.
Yes, birch syrup is getting some buzz, NPR reports, with at least one Canadian newspaper calling the stuff a “new food trend” and others finding small yet steady demand for the sap.
It turns out that Latvians have been tapping birch trees for centuries, according to NPR, using the sap for a variety of things: as a barely sweet drink (“almost like water with fresh lemon or lime, but without the tartness”), as well as for sparkling wine, fermented lemonade and, of course, syrup.
“When it’s sunny, you can get 20 liters (4.5 gallons) a day from a tree,” Martins Ritins, a Latvian chef who sticks a glass right under the tap for a drink, tells NPR. “The season is two to three weeks. Each tree produces a slightly different taste.”
Perhaps one reason birch syrup has yet to rival maple syrup in the United States is because it’s much less sweet that the waffle topping we’re used to. According to NPR, maple sap is 8 percent sugar, while that of the birch is a lowly 1 to 2 percent sugar. It also takes a lot more birch sap than maple sap to get a gallon of syrup, which leads to higher costs.
But maybe some smart birch-loving marketer will sell Americans on the sap’s health claims, as it contains Vitamin C and other nutrients, as well as certain unspecified “detoxification qualities.”
Sounds a little like some celebrity version of the Master Cleanse, don’t you think? Quick, Latvians! Get Beyoncé on board, label it a waist whittler, and we’re pretty confident you’ll — ahem — tap into the American market in no time. Low-carb pancakes optional.
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