Fermented birch sap is very popular in some places like Eastern Europe. As spring arrives, the beauty of nature is broken by bottles and buckets hanging from branches and tree trunks, mainly in birch and maple trees.
The bottles are slowly filled with the clear, slightly sweet, watery birch or maple sap. The sap is slightly sweeter if the winter is cold. The juice is wonderful to drink fresh, though some like it also fermented. Fermented birch sap is tangy and refreshing when served cold. Fresh birch sap is sold on markets and in shops for the short season. Fresh sap does not keep long so some sellers keep much of it frozen and gradually thaw what’s needed.
Fermented birch sap surprisingly tasty
You might get a pleasant surprise when tasting fermented birch sap for the first time. While fresh birch sap is slightly sweet, when fermented it turns crisply dry, tangy, and slightly sparkling.
Some years ago, a farmer producing fermented birch juice in Latvia appeared at the World Organic Food fair in Germany. He received so many orders that he had to turn away most of them as he was short on birch juice. People were amazed at how fresh and pure the taste was. But is birch sap healthy?
Interestingly, fresh birch juice has a similar chemical profile as coconut water. Tree sap contains a number of micronutrients as electrolytes.Uses of tree saps in northern and eastern parts of Europe (pbsociety.org.pl)The Bioactive and Mineral Compounds in Birch Sap (researchgate.net)FoodData coconut water (usda.gov)FoodData maple water (usda.gov)
- Saponins (phytochemicals)
- Essential oils
- Amino acids
Tree sap has traditionally been used for its purifying and diuretic properties. The sap is said to promote the elimination of waste from the body like food additives, coloring, uric acid, phosphate, and other substances. Birch sap is traditionally used for kidney stones, arthritis, inflammatory conditions, and to promote supple skin.
Summary: Birch sap is clean drink, free of heavy metals and other pollutants. It’s a great drink to keep the body well hydrated. It’s a great thirst quencher, rich in electrolytes.
Birch sap is also structure water (similar to fresh vegetable juice) which might explain some of the benefits. Tap water is H2O but structured water H2O3. Reserach indicates that structured water support the body cleansing out toxins and waste, regulate weight, strengthened immunity, supply cells with organic acids, stimulate metabolism, rinse salt precipitation from bone joints, and perform other functions.Effect of the magnetized water supplementation (nih.gov)Jerald Pollack and EZ water (hexagonalwater.com)Healthy fats and exclusion-zone size – PubMed (nih.gov)
Research into birch sap’s anti-aging properties at the University of Latvia has prompted some companies to launch a line of birch sap products. Studies on birch juice show that it may stimulate the growth of dermal and epidermal cells and help delay cell ageing. However, for a stronger effect on the skin, a more concentrated birch sap is used in studies.Chemical composition; effect on skin cells.pdf
It seems that birch sap might rejuvenate and protect skin cells from oxidative stress, including ultraviolet rays, environmental pollution and consequences caused by inflammation.
As with most fermented foods, fermented birch sap may have increased benefits compared to fresh sap. Fermenting tree sap was originally a way to preserve the juice. During fermentation, several new compounds are created boosting its potency. Fermentation also makes it easier for the body to assimilate the micro-nutrients.
Summary: Structured water (H2O3) seems to be a great hydrator for the body. Our bodies are 60% water and all cells in the body are affected by the quality of water. Tree sap is structured water and promotes many cell activities in the body.Water and health research | pollacklabThe Fourth Phase of Water at TEDx – YouTubeEZ water (hexagonalwater.com)
How to ferment birch sap
Fresh birch sap naturally contains beneficial microorganisms that will start to ferment the juice in a few days at room temperature. A sign of this is that the clear sap turns cloudy and slowly turns slightly tangy. The fermented juice can be enjoyed right away or used as a base to produce a fizzier drink.
Adding more bubbles. Here’s one way to produce a fizzier fermented birch sap. Basically, adding sugar promotes more bubbles.
- Pour fresh (or slightly fermented) birch sap into a clean bottle that can be tightly closed
- 1 teaspoon sugar per quart of birch juice
- A few raisins (support fermentation)
- 1 clove (prevents mold)
- 1 small black currant branch (great taste)
- Leave the sap to ferment at room temperature; in 5-7 days it should turn tangy and bubbly.
- Store in a cool place for another 15-20 days.
Try a different taste in each bottle, like peppermint (a clear winner), lemon, ginger.
Sparkling birch sap
If you want even more bubbles, add more sugar. Try this:
- 1 quart fresh (or slightly fermented) birch sap
- 2-3 teaspoons sugar
- 4-5 raisins
- Citric acid (or a small piece of lemon)
Preparation: Add sugar, raisins, and a little citric acid to a bottle that can hold pressure. For this recipe, bottles with swing tops ar great and inexpensive (image above). These bottles are also prefect for kombucha and beer. Fill the bottles with fresh birch sap until the neck, i.e. not completely full. Close bottle and store. After 15-20 days or longer it should be ready to drink.
Most experts say birch sap can be treated as water, so it’s hard to overdose. The sugar contents of fresh birch sap are low and even lower in fermented birch sap. Fresh and fermented birch sap are both hard to resist during warm spring days.
Yes, fresh sap can turn yellowish or light brown and develop a bad taste.
At least 3,4 days depending on the temperature. The colder, the longer it stays fresh. You can also freeze the fresh sap and take it out when you need it. After some days it will slowly start to ferment and get slightly tangy.
Difficult to say as you’re dealing with live organisms and other factors. Properly prepared and stored in air-tight bottles, it should keep for weeks or months.