The increase in air and ground temperatures, the lengthening of days and increased sunlight is the trigger for life to GROW, and SPRING is nearly here!
Growth in nature is a lot about photosynthesis and sap rising. Sap typically rises in March and Birch Sap can be collected during the first couple of weeks. This is the true start to Spring – sap rises in the tree producing buds and leaves. Birch Sap is a slightly sweet, watery & healthy drink. If you literally put a metal pipe into a birch tree and hang a bucket off of it, you will be delightfully surprised to find it filling with a nutritious, electrolyte drink.
Did you know that the low-GI sugar called Xylitol is made from birch sap? (Or at least the proper stuff is, don’t buy ANY Xylitol that isn’t made from birch sap!) See our info sheet below, all about Xylitol.
The Silver Birch Tree: Sap and Xylitol.
Betula alba or Betula pendula known as white or silver birch, runs with a clear, nourishing sap at the break of winter and spring – usually in March. By simply twisting a small pipe, or even a twig, into the medicinal Birch tree trunk, sap will flow easily out of the tree and into a container. It’s best taken fresh as it doesn’t keep very well unless preserved.
Birch water is a slightly sweet and silky, highly nourishing beverage. A traditional drink in eastern and northern Europe, it is now commercially available in the British market at health food stores such as Holland & Barrett. Electrolyte-rich, birch sap has fewer calories than coconut water so is great to use in smoothies, as an exercise drink, and ideal for mixing with superfood green powders.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sweetener. Known as wood or birch sugar, it came to the commercial market a number of years ago and was promoted by dentists as a preferred sugar alternative. Xylitol doesn’t break down in the system like sugar and can help keep a neutral pH level in the mouth, as well as preventing bacteria from sticking to the teeth.
The Xylitol product looks exactly like a white granulated sugar. It’s slightly sweeter than white sugar so you will need to use less of it in recipes calling for sugar. My favourite brand is the Xylitol UK brand because it’s made from 100% birch tree extract from Finland, with no other nasty ingredients (xylan or corn). At only 7 calories per gram, Xylitol is considered a low GI sugar, allowing the body to burn off the excess energy nearly twice as fast as table sugar!
When offering guests, a cup of tea or coffee, it is the ideal sugar to keep in your pot at work or home. Our builder used to ask for 3 or 4 spoons of sugar, and I would add 2 teaspoons of Xylitol instead! This is the sugar I use in raw food cheesecakes as it’s white colour and sweet flavour combine perfectly.