Birch sap drinks

In the period between the ninth and fourteenth centuries in ancient Russia there are terms for beverages: water, syta, berezovitsa, wine, honey, kvass. Most of these drinks are alcoholic. Nonalcoholic was only two of them: water and syta, and the third – berezovitsa -was divided into simple berezovitsa and alcoholic berezovitsa (“drunk berezovitsa”).

The term “drunk berezovitsa ” was absent from the written monuments of the Old Slavonic language, but according to the Arab traveler Ibn Fadlan, dated by the year 921, it is known that the Slavs consumed alcoholic berezovitsa, which is naturally fermented sap of birch, stored in open barrels and acting intoxicating.

Birch sap contains up to 2% of sugar. By simple boiling (evaporation) could be obtained syrup which consistency is close to the honey with sugar content up to 66%.

Birch sap has long been an accepted recognized as a natural tonic drink. In year 1946 Institute of Nutrition, as a part of Academy of Medical Sciences, brought cooking method of birch kvass in their recommendations on nutrition.

It is an ancient folk recipe: pour into a clean container birch sap extracted directly after tapping and place in a cool place. Fermentation will happen without any additives, and there will be two or three months to keep its taste without its deteriorating.

Birch wine with the label “White sweet on a birch juice” first appeared for sale in Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) in the post-war years.

The basis of its production technology has been put by an old folk recipe from the book “Menologion. Hints to Russian peasant for every day and hour.” “White sweet on a birch juice” had buyers to taste and was evaluated at the exhibition.

People’s recipe has been improved as follows:

10 liters of birch sap, 800 g of sugar. Mix Birch juice with sugar and boil to reduce by half, then filter through 2 layers of cheesecloth and leave to cool until 40⁰ C, put 2-3 lemon, skinless and stoned, or 1-2 teaspoons of citric acid. After cooling to 25-30⁰ C, add the 10g of dry yeast (preferably wine). Fermentation continues until the sugar content of the wort will be 4%, then, for the suspension of fermentation, pour into wort 0.5 liters of ethyl alcohol or 0,8 – 0,9l vodka.

In a domestic environment after 2-3 weeks the wort is examine by tasting and, if enough of its sweet enough, add ethyl alcohol or vodka. Ageing 3-4 decades, then filtered and bottled.

amount of alcohol contained in the birch wine – 13,5-14,0⁰. If you reduce all proportion and do not add alcohol, we get a dry table wine of “Riesling” with near 6⁰ alcohol contained.

The syrup from  birch sap is cooked like any ordinary Syrup. Into the boiling sap poured a thin stream of sugar until the desired thickness. You can add in the syrup lemon or citric acid to your taste.

Our ancestors did not have the modern technologies of conservation of juice for a long time without losing its properties. So they prepared different juice drinks from surplus.

Some recipes can be used nowadays.

Fresh birch sap is fermented in glass containers of any size. Washed with hot (preferably boiling) water, fill them with fresh juice.

For every pint is added an incomplete teaspoon of ordinary sugar, or glucose, 2-3 raisins, washed in cold boiled water, and if you like – a little lemon peel. The vessel is closed with a stopper or lid and fixed with wire or sling.

Creates quite high pressure of carbon dioxide during fermentation, and to avoid bursting of the glass, it is not recommended to put more than specified amount of sugar. A few days later you get a nice taste, sour, highly carbonated drink.

To preserve birch sap you can make kvass. Heat to 35 °, add 15-20 grams of yeast, and 3 raisins to 1 literto taste can be added lemon peel. After this jar or bottle is tightly closed and left for 1-2 weeks.

Good results are obtained by the following method of fermentation of birch juice – the juice in any way is heated to 30-35 ° temperature, filtered and bottled in clean glass containers.

Then the juice pressed baker’s yeast is added in an amount of 0.05%. Containers shall be closed and folded for storage in a cold room with a temperature of 5-10 °. After 2-3 days birch sap rabble and eventually cooled down, which results in a well-carbonated, slightly sourish, birch kvass. It can be stored in the cold until 2 months.

Kvass can be cooked in a different way. To 10 l of birch sap added juice from 4 lemons, 50 g of yeast, 30 g of honey or sugar, raisins at the rate of 2-3 things on the bottle. Pour into bottles and keep for 1-2 weeks in a cool dark place. Kvas can be ready after 5 days, but if it would stay there longer, beverage will not spoil, it can be stored for the whole summer.

There is another recipe of kvass. Lower the bag of burnt crusts of rye bread on a string in the container with birch juice. After two days the yeast in the crusts will transfer to juice and fermentation begins. Then pour to the barrel tenth of the amount of oak bark, as a preservative and a tanning agent, and for flavor – Cherry (berries and leaf) and fennel stalks. In two weeks kvass is ready, it can be stored for a long time.

Our ancestors drank birch sap fermented in barrels without adding sugar – it was a traditional low-alcohol drink at the feasts.

Birch sap itself is pleasant, refreshing and restorative beverage body, but you can always add the juice of black chokeberry, cranberries, blueberries, or to infuse on the different herbs (chamomile, thyme, linden flower, rose hips) in a bank veiled cheesecloth approximately 2 weeks. You can add to it extracts of Hypericum, mint, lemon balm, pine needles, cherry juice, apples, currants.

 “Belarusian” drink. Pour juice into a large bottle and put in the dark cool place for 2-3 days. Then add to it the malt from barley or roasted crushed breadcrumbs. On 5 liters of birch juice you will need 30 g. barley malt or dried bread.

 Also balm can be prepared from birch sap. On bucket of juice you need 3 kg of sugar, 2 liters of wine and 4 finely chopped lemons. All this must be put to ferment for two months in the cellar, and then pour into bottles and let stand for another three weeks.

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