Birch Syrup…a Sticky Business


On our recent drive up to Clinton, BC to visit our lambs at Cutter Ranch we stopped at a roadside store to buy some local produce, dairy, and meat for the weekend. While browsing the shelves, something called birch syrup caught my attention. The friendly woman behind the counter offered up a spoon to taste and I was immediately hooked. I had to have some.

I love maple syrup and cook with it often, but I’ve never tasted birch syrup and don’t think I’ve ever seen it at local stores. Maybe I just wasn’t looking? The jar I picked up was from Sweet Tree Ventures, a family-run 2000 acre ranch in Quesnel, BC—one of the few birch syrup producers in BC as most comes from Alaska and Yukon. I understand that harvesting and producing syrup must be a sticky, time-consuming business and likely difficult to do profitably, but aren’t birch trees quite common in BC? What’s the problem?

According the Sweet Tree’s website, birch syrup is not only sustainable, but is an all-natural and delicious product. Similar to its cousin maple syrup, birch syrup is produced by collecting tree sap and concentrating it by evaporation into a dark, thick syrup. But that’s where the similarity ends.

Whereas maple syrup takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup, with birch syrup the ratio is 100 to 1. Birch syrup is predominantly fructose-based, so it tastes less sweet and is easier to digest than maple syrup, which is primarily sucrose. And birch syrup contains many more vitamins and minerals than maple.

When we used it to glaze local garlic scapes with dinner, we were really pleased with the rich, spicy, woody flavour— really rather incomparable to maple syrup. I can’t wait to try it in sauces or dressings, as a glaze on pork chops, or drizzled on top of ice cream.

Have you tasted or cooked with birch syrup? Got any recipes or tips to share?

13 Responses to “Birch Syrup…a Sticky Business”

  1. Posted on August 10th, 2009

    They have it at Edible BC on GI. I had some the other day and they recommended it mixed with a smoky whisky as a sauce for ribs.

  2. Posted on August 11th, 2009

    I’ve tried it at a couple of food tastings and have been delighted by it. While it is sweeter, I find the flavour to be more complex. Degan’s whisky & birch syrup idea sounds fantastic! Perhaps on salmon… mmmm

  3. Posted on August 11th, 2009

    Thanks for the inspiration Degan.

    As I type this I have a good dose of birch syrup mixed with of small handful of shallots, dab of butter, another dab of whole grain dijon mustard, a splash of chicken stock, a gush of orange-banana-strawberry juice, a sprinkle of chilies, a pinch of S&P, and a glug of smokey Laphroaig scotch whiskey, thickening in preparation for glazing my pan roasted pork tenderloin.

    Smells and tastes like heaven I tells ya.

  4. Posted on August 12th, 2009

    oh yum, that sounds good.

  5. Posted on August 29th, 2009

    Mmmmm,Im going to try the whiskey. We are up in Northern BC and tapped our own trees last spring, we ordered the birch tapping manual from Moose Meadows.Check out their agrotourism business. While I love it on salmon and over icecream with ripe berries my favorite is in a vinaigrette dressing!

  6. Posted on November 13th, 2009

    Just wonderful comments about birch syrup. We know Laura and Gerry of Sweet Tree Ventures and they too make a fantastic product. It is an exciting time for non-timber forest products and agroforestry. Birch syrup fits right into these 2 emerging sectors. It is fun to do, great to use, delicious to taste and a great way to generate some income. Any questions about birch syrup… just ask. We are hoping that some standards for birch syrup production will be forthcoming to assist all producers make a better and safer product. Cheers, Heloise Dixon-Warren

  7. Posted on January 12th, 2010

    Thanks for the inspirational comments about Sweet Tree’s syrup. We are very excited about the product and being a farm girl I am always trying new things in the kitchen. A Spicy Birch Barbecue Sauce is our newest creation. Great on chicken, ribs, salmon etc. Check out our website at Regards Laura

  8. Posted on February 28th, 2010


  9. Posted on April 1st, 2010

    Birch syrup can be purchased directly from the producers – there are 3 in BC. The important thing about purchasing birch syrup is to become informed and ask the right questions. Birch Syrup is sold either PURE or as a BLENDED; the latter where fructose / sucrose or another sweetener is added to concentrated sap to bring the sugar density to about 66 deg. Brix. Adding a stabiliser (e.g. sugars) is quite an acceptable method but it does result in a milder, less bold, and often sweeter product. Unfortunately, not all producers state whether their birch syurp is bold or not as they do not include a list of ingredients. Looking forward to chatting about birch syup!

  10. Posted on June 15th, 2010

    If you like the syrup, then you have got to try the birch wine & the birch vodka from Tell Craig that Dwight sent you. Cheers

  11. Posted on June 25th, 2010

    I have to agree with Dwight (above). We’ve tried Sapworld’s “Lady of the Woods” and it was fantastic!

  12. Posted on February 24th, 2012

    if you are in Manitoba then we are the producers in that Province. check out our web site at we have retail outlets throughtout the Province

  13. Posted on July 31st, 2012

    Thank Dwight:) Hello to all. It is wonderful to see people talking about birch. After 7 years of research and seeing this industry moving forward it is inspiring to know that we are all doing well. You can look forward to getting birch syrup from Newfoundland next year:) Craig CEO Sap World.

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