Thursday, April 22, 2010

Birch Syrup--Finally Done

Ooga grew up on Aunt Jemima. For most of her childhood, she didn't put any syrup on her pancakes at all. Eating and cooking with syrup is something that she has grown into. So, today, when we finally tasted our birch syrup on a breakfast of French toast, Ooga wasn't sure if she liked the flavor or not. Maybe it was something she would have to grow into as well.

Earlier this week we finally took all the jars of 'mostly syrup' out of the fridge, combined them, and boiled them down. We used the spatula test to tell if the syrup was done since we didn't have a float to measure the specific gravity. We've never used this test before, and it seems we missed the mark a little. Our syrup, although sweet, is not as thick as a syrup should be.

Reviews: The syrup is very mild in flavor, much milder than maple syrup. It is also very mildly astringent--I know that sounds unappetizing, but it's not unpleasant at all. Ooga describes the flavor as woodsy. It reminds me of a flavor that I wouldn't expect to be sweet. But it's not as sweet-tasting as maple syrup is anyway. I enjoyed it smothering my breakfast, and we'll have no problem finishing it, but I feel we haven't quite perfected our birch sugaring yet. (No wintergreen flavor at all. Several friends had asked. I suspect that the molecules that give this flavor to the twigs and tea are too fragile to survive all that boiling intact.)

Both Laura and I give this one a 3--palatable.

Some advice for next time:

  1. Boil one pot at a time.--At first we had just kept adding sap to one pot, constantly diluting the concentrated sap. This method seems to darken the syrup and impact the flavor somewhat.
  2. Wait for real syrup.--We stopped too early, thinking that the sheets that we're supposed to see falling off the end of our spatula had come. This is going to be tricky to get just right. Boil too long and you've scalded the fruits of all your hard work.

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