Birch sap in Belarus: How and where to get it?

Birch sap in Belarus: How and where to get it?

Russians will be hardly surprised by birch sap. But it turns out that this drink, which is known even in America and which is waited for in space, has become a Belarusian brand. Perhaps because of the fact that legendary Pesniary (a popular Soviet Belarusian folk rock vocal-instrumental ensemble) sang “How birches weep.” Alyona Syrova also enjoys birch sap.

And these tears, perhaps, are the most delicious and famous symbol of the awakening of nature in our latitudes. Pavel Antonovich meets the 86th spring of his life.His grandfathers and great-grandfathers went for juice to the nearby forests. Every year, he goes for birch sap along the same path but in his own grove.

Pavel Bazylev:
I went to the forestry and was given a piece of paper authorizing me to collect the sap.

Pavel Antonovich receives the so-called “forest ticket” annually despite the fact that birches grow on his own land. He has saved the birches, which he has known since childhood, and in spring he takes from them exactly as much sap as necessary.

Pavel Bazylev's technology of juice uptake is fine-tuned to a millimeter.

Pavel Bazylev:
Wrap about 7-10 centimeters at an angle, so that the water can flow.

By the way, Pavel Antonovich uses his own device so as not to harm the trees.

If we speak about getting juice on an industrial scale, such a personal approach is rather a luxury.

Valentin Asomchik, forester's assistant of the Starodorozhsky forestry:
A kerf which is made with a chainsaw is at an angle of no more than 30 degrees. If poachers do it incorrectly, the birch can die in one or two years.

The spring of 2017 came to Belarus earlier than usual and tapping started in Staryya Darohi in early March.

Alexander has lost count of his "birch seasons". He chooses a suitable tree immediately thanks to the experienced eye.

It is impossible to foresee how much juice will eventually be extracted from a particular birch. For example, on this plot, an average tree has given a full 40-liter package in a day. It will be emptied, brought to the forestry and sold.

Maria Sharikalo, forester's assistant:
People call us, the first man booked one before the New Year. People take absolutely different amounts (from 3 to 400 liters).

Each year, the number of various illegal stations for the production of birch sap  decreases. And "forest people" are happy about this fact.

Sergey Marshchenok, forester:
I will come, I will make a protocol proving that you have done it arbitrarily and you will pay 10 basic units. And you will not want it any more.

Forestry farms  sell juice to both plants and ordinary people at a nominal price. Which can’t be said about the export of Belarusian birch sap abroad. Its cost is measured by tens of dollars on the shelves of American shops. After the first flight Oleg Novitsky, the Russian cosmonaut of Belarusian origin, admitted that he missed this sap in space.

Yulia Novitskaya, the cosmonaut's spouse, has kept the promise and recently the news has come from the ISS.

Oleg Novitsky, cosmonaut:
A parcel from the Earth: birch sap, a Belarusian T-shirt and chocolate.

There are even legends about the useful properties of birch sap. They say that it improves immunity and clears the body after winter. Also, both taste and color are discussed.

Pavel Bazylev:
Where it flows poorly, it will be sweeter. And where it flows faster, it will not be so sweet.

There are many ways to store juice, and each family has its own.

Gennady Shutro, Chief Engineer of the Starodorozhsky Experimental Forestry:
If you want to can, then bring it to 90 degrees, almost boil it but don’t quite do that. Add a teaspoon of citric acid, half a glass of sugar (you can add a bit more) per a three-liter jar. Also you can add a candy barbariska for children.

But as experts say the most correct way to consume birch sap is to do it without moving away from the tree.