Our Birch Syrup Production & Manufacturing Process
2020 Sugarshack Highlight Reel...
Prepping the harvest
The preparation and harvest period takes place over 6 to 8 weeks weeks as winter turns to spring in Central Canada, falling anywhere from late March to mid-May. It takes many hands to prepare for the birch sap harvest. Trees that have come down over winter have to be removed. Lines have to be repaired, maintained and cleaned, new trees added, sometimes new lines installed and equipment serviced. Then the process begins.
Tapping and processing
1. Tapping & collection - When the sap starts to flow, tappers go into the forest to tap 2000 trees. A network of tubing and a vacuum-assist bring the sap directly from the trees to the processing plant. Sanitized titanium drill bits and 5/16 health spiles (taps) are used to minimize the stress on the trees.
2. Storage - The collected sap is held in a large storage tanks and used as soon as possible for optimum flavor.
3. Concentration - The sap then undergoes a Reverse Osmosis process to remove much of the water it contains. Careful attention is required at this stage to ensure the ideal concentration level that will bring out the syrup’s flavor.
4. Evaporation - The concentrated sap enters the evaporator where it is cooked to perfection by our syrup crafters, Rory and Glenda. This is one of the key steps in the process and draws on the crafter’s knowledge, experience and full sensory awareness to adjust the settings and determine the ideal duration and intensity of evaporation.
5. Filtration - The now shelf-stable syrup is filtered through a filter press to produce clean, sparkling clear syrup.
6. Bottling - The syrup is bottled and labelled.
The process outlined above sounds easy but there are many factors involved in each. There are many challenges every season - from weather issues like high winds, excessive heat or rain, to hiccups with the vacuum system and machinery, to bears biting through a mainline and much more. The weather leading up to the season affects flavor and color. No seasons are alike and no season’s syrup is exactly like the others. In this we are much like wine.
Although extra hands, provided by family members, volunteers and employees are required at harvest time, Rory and Glenda are the main crafters of the birch syrup. This often requires working through the night (with the support of copious amounts of caffeine!).
Beyond the harvest...
The production doesn’t stop at harvest time.
In 2015, The Canadian Birch Company began making products using its pure birch syrup as main ingredient. Birch Whiskey Toffee Sauce was introduced first and gained the nickname “Heaven in a Jar” by customers.
The Birch Q Sauce has a following all year long - not just in BBQ season.
The Birch Bacon Jam is a two time winner - 3rd place in the Great Manitoba Food Fight 2015 and 3rd place in the Specialty Birch Products category at the International Birch Forum at Cornel University.
Birch for Breakfast, a sweetened version of our premium Gold Birch Syrup is the newest addition to the line up and fills a market segment gap based on customer feedback.
Our Specialty products began with professional recipes developed by executive chef, Christine Couvelier, commissioned by us expressly for our birch syrups’ unique flavors.
Each of the recipes has been further developed and adapted by us to be shelf stable for 18 months after hot filling and sealing.
All of our products are produced under the Safe Food For Canadians Act and the Bacon Jam production is Federally inspected by CFIA.