Birch syrup is made from harvesting and evaporating the sap of the birch tree to syrup in a three-week spring harvest. It is a similar process to maple but requires over 100 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup, whereas maple averages 40:1. Production is very limited–less than 4,000 gallons are produced worldwide, most of them right here in Alaska. We produce about 1300 gallons of our Kahiltna Gold each spring. Birch syrup has a unique, spicy-sweet flavor that is delicious alone and complements many foods.
Through the 2019 harvest, Kahiltna Gold pure birch syrup and birch breakfast syrup were certified organic by Washington State Department of Agriculture. Sadly WSDA pulled out of Alaska in early 2020 and we made the difficult decision not to pursue certification with another entity. Nothing has changed in our harvest or process – our syrup is wild harvested and as organic as the boreal forest. We follow the birch syrup best practices and production standards developed by the Alaska Birch Syrupmakers’ Association, founded in 1993.
RESERVE – We reserve the syrup made on our first day of harvest for your pleasure. The first day’s sap is the sweetest and lightest of the harvest when the sugar content of the sap is at its highest (1.1-1.2%). The air and ground temperatures are cold, and the snow on the ground keeps the sap perfectly cold and sweet. We have heard maple folks say that birch syrup is “not for pancakes”. We heartily disagree – our Reserve is sublime and smooth with a nuanced and intense sweetness. Very limited in supply and available only in our fancy, re-usable, clamp-lid 8.5 oz glass bottle.
BREAKFAST syrup is a blend of birch syrup and organic cane sugar, providing a lower-cost option for those with kids or a lighter palate. It is milder and sweeter than our pure syrup but retains the essence of birch. Available in several sizes, in plastic jugs or glass.
EARLY RUN PURE BIRCH SYRUP (previously called First Run) is produced within the first week of the annual spring harvest. Except for the Reserve, it is the lightest and sweetest of the season. Its flavor, sweetness, and color vary from year to year like fine wine, and depends very much on when the sap run begins and the weather at the time of harvest. It is our favorite drizzled over vanilla ice cream, hot cereal, and on our sourdough pancakes. Deeply sweet and velvety.
MID RUN PURE BIRCH SYRUP is a transition between early and late harvest and lasts only a few days. It has a more complex and tangy sweetness and is somewhat “birchier” than our first run syrup. It is the most versatile of our birch syrups, and it is a good choice for cooks who want that birch-like flavor without being too strong. Mid-run contains more minerals and is also preferred for nutritional uses and diets. We use it primarily for birch milkshakes, coffee drinks, and salmon dishes, but, being a true birch syrup lover, I am just as likely to use it on my sourdough pancakes!
LATE RUN PURE BIRCH SYRUP is all about the last week of harvest. It is robust and tangy, not as sweet, and highest in minerals and nutrients. Its bold flavor is a step beyond mid-run. The flavor will vary from year to year, but it is always full of the essence of birch. Most years there is a citrus or cherry-like fruitiness; some years it is more reminiscent of dark chocolate and coffee. We ship our late-run birch to chefs and beer brewers all over the world and is an ingredient in all of our birch confections and sauces. If you are cooking, baking, or brewing with it, or using in a cleansing diet or other nutritional application, the late run will be a good choice.