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Birch syrup: the other great Canadian Syrup

Canada is synonymous with maple. The tree is part of our country’s pioneering history, centre stage on our flag, and a familiar sight in forests coast to coast. At our Retail Store in the heart of Vancouver’s Granville Island, we receive thousands of visitors from around the world annually. Naturally, the one item they request far and beyond any other is iconic Maple Syrup.

And while we certainly carry artisan maple syrup from across Canada, we always also offer them a taste of another localized specialty–birch syrup. Birch syrup is darker and less sweet than maple, with a distinctly savoury taste. It is tapped the same way as maple, but the processing is much more concentrated: one gallon of syrup begins life as 80-100 gallons of sap. In contrast, maple syrup takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. The average birch tree produces three to five gallons of sap per day, all of which is tapped by hand and produced in small batches. This is a highly sustainable use of British Columbia’s forests.

Now one of our top selling products, the Birch Syrup in our store comes from B.C.’s leading producer–Sweet Tree Ventures, in Quesnel. Jerry and Laura Entzminger started Diamond E Ranch in 1979, growing it from a from a 17-acre hobby farm into a beautiful 2,000-acre spread. After nearly three decades of running a successful cattle ranch, they decided to downsize and diversify. Part of the diversification included the tapping of 500 birch trees for the production and marketing of birch syrup. Sweet Tree Ventures is committed to sustainability and promotes the use of B.C.’s forests by harvesting birch sap in a responsible way, ensuring the continued health of our birch woodlots for future generations.

It hasn’t just been a success in our retail store, but in our bistro as well, where we use it in a myriad of dishes both savoury and sweet. Birch syrup contains fructose sugar which has a much lower melting point than the sucrose sugar found in maple syrup. Fructose is also easily digested and is considered to be diabetic friendly. The end result provides an intoxicatingly earthy palate for salad dressings, marinades, barbecue sauces and glazes.

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