If there was ever a starting gun to mark the start of Spring, this is it. A truly special phenomenon, the ‘rising’ of sap occurs for barely two weeks at around the start of March (the start of which will vary depending on your latitude) as birch trees force all their energy reserves into new growth. The first time one witnesses such a bounty being collected is a memorable one - it really does flow out of the tree and can fill a 5 litre demijohn overnight.
The method for collecting is of great debate among the foraging community, with a neat divide between those who do and don’t drill into the trunk of the tree, and further still, those who do and don’t plug the tree afterwards. The arguments on both sides of the conversation are convincing enough but here at Forage Box, we have removed ourselves from this debate as much as possible by simply snipping the tips of low-hanging branches to minimise any damage to the tree (it’s essentially very light pruning, which as any gardener will know is a perfectly safe way to keep any tree nice and healthy) before collecting the free-flowing, clear liquid that drips from the freshly cut branch.
By the time you read this, the Silver Birch sap season will already be over until next March. What you have in your box this month, therefore, is a snapshot of what this symbol of Springtime can offer us. Crack open the bottle and take a swig. You’ll be familiar with the watery consistency, but the delicate ‘woodland’ flavours will glide across you palate and you will try to put your finger on where you recognise that sweetness from. We think it is a bit like watered down honey, but please don’t let that put you off. Savour it, because this is a rare treat and one that has the most limited availability that nature has to offer.