Kahiltna Birchworks "2011 ALASKA MANUFACTURER OF THE YEAR"
birch syrup is one of the rarest
gourmet food products in the world,
and one of the most difficult
to produce. (see About
Dulce Ben-East, Michael East,
and partner, Sally Freund have
operated the Alaskan "sugarbush",
producing pure birch syrup,
at the East Homestead - 35 miles
off the Alaska road system at
Quiet Lake - since 1990. The following video was filmed and produced at our homestead in spring of 2007 by Tom Pi - one of our very talented "sap suckers". Take time to enjoy it!
and Michael have aptly named their
birch syrup "Kahiltna
Gold". "Kahiltna" is
an Athabascan word meaning "from
The Source refers to Denali,also
an Athabascan word, meaning "the
The birch trees from which
we draw sap for our birch
syrup obtain their water from
this source. This source, so far
from human habitation, is pure
and clean - as is the air, making
Kahiltna Gold pure birch syrup
free of pesticides, herbicides,
and other pollutants. As of our 2008 harvest, our pure birch syrup and our birch breakfast syrup are certified organic.
to the our homestead is by float
or ski plane, depending on the
season or, in winter, overland
32 miles by snowmachine - through
vast forests of birch and spruce
and across frozen swamps, lakes,
and rivers. We haul
all our supplies, equipment,
materials, food, fuel and helpers for the birch syrup harvest to the homestead by one of these
Quiet Lake, where we live part-time and produced our birch syrup for the first 20 years, is a
small lake nestled in the center
Susitna Valley, the vast river
valley extending south of the
Alaska Range. It lies just a half
mile from the Kahiltna River that
flows from the Kahiltna Glacier,
40 miles to the north, on the
south flank of Denali. Denali,
commonly referred to as Mt. McKinley,
is North America's highest peak.
Many climbers begin and end their
ascent of Denali at base camp
on the Kahiltna glacier. The Kahiltna
River is traditionally a gold
mining area; gold miners have
staked claims along this river
for decades hoping to make their
fortune. Our birch syrup is our "Kahiltna Gold".
Birchworks has grown over its
23-year existence. While originally
tapping 200 trees, to produce our first "crop" of birch syrup in 1990, we tapped 8000 trees this spring, and purchased sap from 4,000 more.
Read about This Year's Harvest and Dulce's Blog In 1999
Dulce and Michael, needing
more space for a burgeoning business,
built a small commercial Kitchen
near Palmer, Alaska where they bottle the birch syrup and create their wonderful confections,
toppings, and other delicious
products using their pure birch
syrup as an ingredient.
In 2007, the Easts introduced their "Alaska Wild Harvest" product line of "EXTREME" wild berry, low sugar jams. These jams are made using wild Alaskan blueberries, lingonberries (also known as low bush cranberries), and salmonberries. Wild northern blueberries and lingonberries are known for their anti-oxidant curative properties. The jams are not only nutritious - the are delicious! The birch-orange mustard, also a new product, has proved to be a winner among mustard-lovers, and the birched-honey is topping the charts - the Easts are constantly scouring the countryside for local honey so they can continue to offer birched-honey throughout the year. All of these products are now available at the website store.
In summer of 2009 we purchased property near Talkeetna - just 30 miles east of our Kahiltna River homestead - to build a new production facility, and harvested birch sap in the area for the first time in the spring of 2010. The past three years have been a very different harvest in a new location with a great crew - lots of changes. It is now particularly enjoyable for us to purchase sap from local enthusiasts as supplement to what our own sap suckers collected. From mid-May until mid-September, our "taste and tour" production facility is open to visitors. See Contact Us,Visit Us!! for information about what we will offer,and how and where to find us near Talkeetna. Come visit us if you are in the area!
Having harvested Chaga Mushroom on our homestead for years, and enjoyed the earthy tea we make from it, we decided recently to offer two chaga products here. Chaga has recently been "discovered" and information has exploded on the internet about the numerous health benefits of chaga. Wild Alaska chaga, coming from the purest environment and coldest climate, is said to be highest in those benefits. We love it, so ... to your health!! See more information on the health benefits and some recipes at our new page Wild Chaga Products.
The Easts follow the birch syrup best practices and production standards developed by the Alaska Birch Syrupmakers' Association, founded in 1993.
to maintain our Alaskan lifestyle, we
challenge ourselves to make a
living by using the
abundant resources at hand - birch
trees - in a sustainable manner.
Though we now spend a good portion of the year at our Palmer, Alaska kitchen - and our new Talkeetna facility, we escape to our homestead whenever possible. It is now our refuge, and we go there to relax, restore, and reflect on what we have created. Due to the wonders
of our solar panels and communications
technology we have fixed-wireless phone service and a trusty fax machine. Some time soon we'll get satellite for internet, so we can spend more time at the home we love.
our lifestyle and our business
depend greatly on Nature - a force
much greater than ourselves. Weather
determines the length and general
success of our syrup season, our
access to our home, method and
expense of hauling necessary supplies,
our ability to get to the post
office or to town when necessary.
Because of this, we are very much
in tune with the natural rhythms
of the seasons and keep a detailed
log of events such as freeze-up,
ice thickness on the lake, first
snow, "break-up" (the
spring thaw when the lake is no
longer land-able and the rivers
no longer cross-able), first sap
in the birches, and appearance
of the leaves, signaling the end
of the sap harvest. "So,
we have a great respect for and
deference to Nature, and often
must bend to her will. Though
this sometimes causes a feeling
of powerlessness, it is at the
same time spiritually empowering
to feel the strength of Nature
so intensely, and in feeling fully
connected to it, so very much
a part of that rhythm.
think many of our problems and frustrations
as human beings result from our artificial separation
from Nature in modern life. Though
our life is at times more difficult
than it would be if we were connected
to Alaska's road system, the inconveniences
are more than compensated when
we return to the woods in winter
after our time in town. We are
awed at the depth of the silence,
the milky way in all its splendor,
the shimmering aurora, and the
light of the full moon across
the snow. Though we sometimes
have cause to wonder, this is
the time that our hard work pays
off and we know it is worth it.