Well, we all know and love maple syrup, but have you ever thought about other tree saps? Turns out, maple syrup isn’t the only edible (and delicious) tree sap to exist. Who knew?
Well, if you’re anything like me, I know you’re curious to try other delicious tree saps as well. You’ve come to the right place! Here’s everything you need to know about edible tree saps, where you can find them, which trees produce the most delicious sap, and how you can enjoy it.
Is Tree Sap Edible?
Like humans, trees also come in a lot of variety. Thus, you’ll find trees that are poisonous through their fruits, sap, or barks. Similarly, there are a lot of trees that provide a food source to humans through their inner barks, leaves, and even sap.
Some tree sap like maple and birch are edible through the process of tapping.
Trees like maple and birch are most famous for their sweet and thick sap, which is enjoyed in North America and other countries, especially maple syrup, in breakfasts and snacks.
There are a lot of trees in North America and elsewhere which provide edible tree sap to people that they can extract through tapping.
Read more: Edible Tree Leaves
How can you tap for sap?
Tapping is simple. You can use a drill to make a small hole in the trunk or directly insert a small metal or wooden spout into a trunk to extract its sap. One small spout can funnel more than ten gallons of sap into your bucket or tub.
List of Trees with Edible Sap
Without further ado, here is a list of trees that provide rich edible sap:
There are many different varieties of maple trees which produce sap used in maple syrup. These saps differ, even if subtly, in richness and sweetness. These trees include black, red, silver, norway, bigleaf, and bigtooth maple, among several more.
Boxelder are another variety of maple trees, the sap of which is comparatively lower in sugar. Boxelder are small and scrubby trees that mostly grow in northern Canada.
Another edible tree sap comes from birch trees. The sap from this tree is generally more acidic than that of maple trees. It also requires almost double (sometimes even triple) of birch tree sap to make its syrup, than for maple.
Traditionally, birch tree sap has been used as a sweetener, to make vinegar, and in ales and wines. Like maple, birch also comes in several different varieties, like paper, yellow, black, grey, and white birch.
Paper birch contains the highest amount of sugar than all of the other varieties. Birch syrups have a bit of tangy, spicy taste which makes it unique and delicious.
You might have previously only heard about ironwood for its bark, which is used in a lot of furniture and other things. However, the sap produced by ironwood trees is also edible.
Although it has a bitter taste, it can be combined with other sap or syrups. In any case, it can be consumed and enjoyed for nutrients.
Sycamore trees are perhaps one of the most commonly growing trees on this list. Chances are that they grow right across from your house!
Sycamore trees produce sap that is low in sugar content, but provide syrup making sap that is rich in nutrients and enjoyed by many. It is most famously known for its butterscotch flavor, which you can even add to other syrups to give it a unique taste.
Even though the sap of linder is more watery than any other on this list, it can still be used for syrup and other edible things. The sap is low on sugar content, but can be added to other saps as well to give a blending or mix taste.
Alder trees closely resemble the properties of birch trees, hailing from the same family. Like birch syrup, syrup made from alder sap also has a tangy, slightly spicy taste to it.
A lot of nut trees, like black walnut, heartnut, and buartnut, create sap which is high in sugar content. The sap made from nut trees, especially black walnut and butternut, creates a light and refreshing syrup. These trees are also grown around the same time as maple, but produce much less sap in quantity as compared to maple trees.
Pine trees are said to be one of the most benefitting trees to the earth. Their inner bark, acorns, and sap–all are extremely rich in nutrients and used as survival food for many. The sap of conifers can be tapped and enjoyed as tea. It is rich in vitamin A and C, among other nutrients.
Hickory and poplar trees have also been known to produce edible sap, but the studies are inconclusive in this matter. Many people say that their inner bark is extremely nutritional and edible, used in tea or syrups, but there isn’t much discussion as to what the sap tastes like.
A word to the wise: when it comes to sap, because of its stickiness, it can get glued to the skin and be difficult to get rid of. For this reason, one must research well before foraging out in search of saps. Not every tree sap is edible, or even neutral.
There are some trees, the sap of which is actively harmful when it comes in contact with the tapper. For example, elm trees are known to produce a sap that irritates skin upon contact. Similarly, you might have heard of poison ivy or poison oak. The sap of poison oak is also toxic and harms the skin upon contact.
Read more: Edible Tree Leaves
What are the Benefits of Tree Sap?
Most of the tree sap found is rich in nutrients such as fiber, potassium, sodium, vitamin A, C, carbohydrates, and starch, among much much more. Traditionally, these were foraged by the natives of the land and provided them with nutrition and good health, as well, used for medicinal purposes.
Most of these sap are thick and smooth, with a mucilaginous agent, which acts as a soothing agent. This helps soothe wounds and injuries. However, ensure that the sap you are using does not contain high acidic levels. It is also believed that if sap is infused in soups or teas, it helps to heal wounds faster.
Other than that, tree saps are widely used in different food items to provide flavor or thickness to them, such as tea and soups. Separately, the sap of maple, birch, and other trees can be boiled with water to create a sweet syrup and enjoyed with bread, toast, and pancakes.
How can you enjoy tree sap as food?
There are several ways in which you can convert your raw tree sap into a delicious snack.
- The sap can be directly used with soups and teas and infused to give a unique, sweet flavor, or just to increase the consistency of thickness of the soup.
- One or more different saps can be mixed and blended together to create a unique and refreshing taste according to your own preferences and enjoyed by boiling it down with water to create an especially curated syrup.