Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Had some elixir

Lucky for me, this spring stayed cool for a long time. After 12 years in this country place of mine (he moved in only nine years ago), I finally managed to drip some birch sap.

Birch sap can be collected only during a period of a few weeks in early spring just when buds start to develop but before leaves appear. That’s when the fluid is transported intensively up to the tree.

Sap is collected by drilling a small hole on the birch trunk and leading the fluid through a plastic tube to a bottle. The diameter of the trunk should be at least 20cm. The larger the trunk, the more sap it will be able to deliver, up to 20 litres or more per day if you are timing your collecting optimally, I’ve heard.

I succeed in dripping a dozen or so bottles of sap out of four birches some 10 days ago. However, sap is a highly perishable beverage. It can be frozen but it is generally drunk fresh. Even when refrigerated it will stay good for a few days only. So we drank it all the time last week: in the morning, at lunch time, with dinner, and a glass every once in a while in between.

In case you are wondering about the texture and taste, it is like water with a slight sweetness and a hint of something organic vegetable like. All in all, a very subtle and agreeable taste. According to tradition, birch sap is considered a sort of an elixir providing energy, increasing immunity and helping in relieving the symptoms of certain diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, for example.

By the way, all of a sudden we were taken from an unusually cool spring to an unusually warm one. Yesterday, the temperature rose to +30°C (+86°F). A couple of more days like that and the apple trees will be in blossom. I certainly spent my afternoon with the sap at the very last moment. With the present greenery all around, it would be far too late for any sap collecting now.

NB. Even though we have rather far-reaching everyman’s right in our country meaning that everyone has the freedom to roam in the countryside and wilderness, to use the waterways, to swim, to ski, to pick wild berries and mushrooms, etc, as long as the landowner or other people are not disturbed, this must be done without harming anyones property or the natural environment and wildlife. Therefore collecting sap on either public or privately owned land does not fall within our everyman’s right.


  1. Beautiful photos. The tomatoes look so good!

    1. We never get tired of some bruschetta as a snack or a starter

  2. It must have been wonderful to collect the birch sap for the first time! I hope it has given you lots of health benefits. It must have be strange having the temperature so high! Sarah x

    1. We are hoping to stay full of energy for quite a while as we have so much to do this season. It did feel funny to turn from night frost to Mediterranean temperatures practically overnight but the days are now 'only' around +25 so it feels like summer.