The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has posted the results of a project exploring opportunities for regional maple sugarmakers to produce birch syrup.
Four sugarhouses participated in the 2015-2016 birch syrup project; one each in Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Jefferson counties.
Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center Maple Program transported the sap collected from 61 paper birch trees there 20 miles to the Uihlein Forest sugarhouse for processing.
Project leader Michael L. Farrell noted that the trial at Paul Smith’s also produced conclusive evidence that using 5/16-inch spouts will provide significantly more sap than 3/16-inch spouts.
In Ellenburg Center, Brandy Brook Maple Farm owner Joy Herfurth tapped 40 white and yellow birch trees and gathered data on sugar content and sap volume. She made about two gallons of birch syrup. A half-gallon sold for $80.
For now, producing birch syrup is on hold at Brandy Brook Maple Farm which has 10,000 maple taps and has opened a new maple-influenced winery, but Herfurth says if birch syrup catches on with consumers, specialty food stores, and restaurants to build market demand she will consider tapping the 150 or so birch trees she has in the future.
The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is a research and technical assistance program serving Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. For more information, visit their website.
Photo: Birch Lines, courtesy Joy Herfurth.