Palmer Extension Agent Julie Cascio and Forestry Resource Specialist Val Barber star in a new five-minute YouTube video produced by Alaska Public Media.
“We Are Birch Tappers” shows both women tapping birch and talking about how birch sap can be used, either as a beverage or boiled down for syrup.
According to Cascio, it takes 100 to 120 gallons of birch sap to make one gallon of syrup. After collecting the sap, she says, “You bring it up to a boil or just under a boil, and you cook it and you cook it and you cook it.”
The video was taped in mid-April at the Matanuska Experiment Farm. It is part of the Indie Alaska series, produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios. According to the program’s website, the series seeks to “capture the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play.’’
Barber said that about 200 individuals have participated in birch tapping workshops led by Cascio and herself at the farm and at Alaska Mill and Feed during the past four years. They have also developed a publication on the subject, “Backyard Birch Tapping and Syrup Basics.”Barber, Assistant Professor Jan Dawe and Dulce Ben-East of the Kahiltna Birchworks will give a talk in June at the Birch Syrup Conference at Paul Smith’s College in New York. The birch tapping video will also be shown.