Birch syrup explored as add-on to maple industry

March 31, 2013 • Business

In this Thursday March 29, 2013 photo, Johanna Lake, left, and Michelle Moore check the flow of birch sap at David Moore’s Crooked Chimney sugarhouse in Lee, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

LEE, N.H. (AP) — Unlike maple syrup-drenched Vermont and lobster-rich Maine, New Hampshire doesn’t have much to call its own in the food world. But it could find a future claim to fame in birch syrup, a nontraditional but increasingly popular product pulled from New Hampshire’s state tree.

For now, New Hampshire has just one known commercial producer of birch syrup, which is made in a similar manner as maple syrup but tastes completely different and commands a significantly higher price. But the industry is growing in western Canada and Alaska, and it’s being studied as a possible add-on venture for maple syrup producers across the northeastern United States.

Cornell University researchers tapped 400 birch trees in Lake Placid, N.Y., last year and 300 more this year to determine everything from optimum tapping times and collection practices to consumer preferences. Similar work is under way at the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center, where professor Abby van den Berg is studying whether it makes economic sense for maple syrup producers to expand into birch.

The first step is figuring out how much sap can be extracted from the average birch tree in the Northeast using modern practices, she said. Then comes number-crunching to figure out how many birch trees Login to read more

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