Thursday, December 14, 2017

OneTree Alaska wins international birch syrup honors

Jan Dawe displays the award OneTree Alaska
received in the Birch Syrups World Challenge.
Jan Dawe and the OneTree Alaska birch sap crew won first place in an international birch syrup competition that drew entries from Alaska, Canada and Russia.

The competition, the Birch Syrups World Challenge, is coordinated by a Russian birch syrup producer Dawe met at an international birch sap and syrup conference in New York two years ago. This is the second year for the challenge.

Dawe said the syrup that was submitted was made from OneTree’s “first day reserve,” the first run of sap, which contains a little sucrose as well as glucose and the fruit sugar, fructose.

“That’s the really good stuff,” she said. Sixty-five testers in Russia judged the syrups, Dawe said. The organizer says the idea of the competition is to identify a consumer favorite. Kahiltna Birchworks in Talkeetna placed second and a Russian producer, third. The competition was this spring but Dawe only recently received the medal.

OneTree has been experimenting with different processing methods and working with individuals interested in small-scale production of birch syrup or birch sap products. Dawe is a research assistant professor who coordinates OneTree Alaska, a forest education, research and outreach program affiliated with SNRE.

Volunteers with a birch syrup cooperative and OneTree staff collected 5,300 gallons of birch sap this past spring. The volunteers received a portion of the birch syrup that was made in exchange for their labors.

Dawe and her volunteers hoped to use the rest of the birch sap concentrate, which would have boiled down to 50 gallons, to make and sell caramels and fudge to support the OneTree program. Unfortunately, that concentrate was lost in late October when the freezer failed.

“That was devastating,” said Dawe.

Instead, Dawe hopes to raise $50,000 by February to help pay for the sap season crew this spring. Toward that end, she and volunteers are selling ice luminaria for $10 each until the end of December and accepting contributions through a University of Alaska Foundation account. Anyone who is interested in ordering luminaria may call 474-5907 or email Dawe at or OneTree at If you are interested in giving to OneTreeAlaska, go to the UA Foundation giving page at

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