Alaskan Culinary Tour: Treats From The Wild

Photo property of Kahiltna Birchworks

From Tree to Table

We’ve all seen images of maple harvest in the Northeast. Soldierlike maple trees, standing bare among the snowy hills of Vermont, with metal taps protruding at waist height. Thick late winter sap is collected in buckets and then boiled and simmered into edible, delectable maple syrup.

But did you know that the mighty maple is not the only sap rendering tree which can be turned into a delicious golden sweet treat? The birch, specifically interior Alaskan birch, can bring forth an equally delicious syrup. On our Alaska tour, we make a stop at one of only a few Alaskan birch factories to see just how this delectable food is created. While there, guests can buy birch brittle, syrup, and more to dazzle your friends and family back home.

Alaska Tour Birch Syrup Stop

As we seek out culinary adventures in destinations across the globe, we are always on the lookout for rare finds. Birch sap is that gem on our Alaska tour. Birch trees in northern climates provide a unique food for harvesters in Alaska, Canada, and Russia. A shorter season, due to colder temperatures, makes for a mineral rich tasting syrup with caramel notes. While maple is complimentary to breakfast items like pancakes and waffles, birch syrup works wonderfully on pork, chicken, and other savory foods.

Birch syrup in Alaska is produced by collecting the sap from the paper birch and evaporating it to syrup.¬†It takes three times as much birch sap to render syrup than it does maple, and you will see that reflected in the price. It takes nearly 100 gallons of sap to create 1 gallon of syrup, so it’s worth every penny. This is truly a rare find, with only around 1,000 gallons a year produced in Alaska.

Birch vs. Maple

Birch syrup has a lower glycemic index than its maple cousin. This western sap is made up of more fructose than glucose, which your body does a better job of processing. According to the Khiltna Birch Factory “Birch syrup is distinctive in flavor and versatile. It has a rich, spicy-sweet flavor that reminds people of flavors from their past -sorghum, horehound candy, different varieties of honey. Birch syrup is a versatile and delicious sweetener that blends well with other flavors in a wide variety of recipes including marinades, barbecue sauces, and dressings, birch granola, baked beans, coffee, baked squash, baked goods, breads, milkshakes, natural sodas and ice cream.”

Join us on an upcoming Alaskan tour so that you too can taste birch syrup at its source!