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.
As of the 2008 harvest, Kahiltna Gold pure birch syrup and birch breakfast syrup are certified organic. The Easts follow the birch syrup best practices and production standards developed by the Alaska Birch Syrupmakers’ Association, founded in 1993.
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 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 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.