Know a gourmet in your life who is looking to discover something new? Have you ever tried birch syrup? Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t even heard of it. Then the North Pennine Birch company popped up on twitter, and my curiosity was piqued.
The North Pennines is an area of outstanding beauty located in the far North of England between Carlisle and Darlington and the company is the first producer of birch syrup in the UK – normally it’s produced in Russia, Alaska or Canada. Birch syrup is rarer than its famous maple counter-part, because, amongst other reasons, it is so hard to tap. This makes it something of a speciality.
North Pennine have done a splendid job of bottling this syrup; it is beautifully presented in an elegant bottle with an equally elegant design showcasing their beautiful birch trees. Pop the lid and the syrup that comes out has something of the consistency of balsamic vinegar and a subtle woodland taste, with notes of caramel. Whilst the syrup can be used for sweets, this is no maple substitute; it’s comprised of fructose rather than maple’s sucrose and has a more complex flavour which means it doesn’t taste that sugary. It’s not really for lacing over pancakes but is ideal for glazes, marinades and, (here thanks to the Alaskan websites), vodka, as well as giving a subtle infusion of the forest to cakes and autumn bakes. It’s full of vitamins and minerals (including vitamin C, potassium, manganese, thiamin and calcium); a kind of super-syrup.
Helpfully, North Pennine have a host of lovely recipes on their website, savoury and sweet – and you can order the syrup direct there too; how great to try something new and to support a fantastic and original new UK venture too. It’s a truly unique product – as the Alaskan site Birch Boy says:
“Syrup from each producer has distinctive qualities….Flavour and colour varies, depending on the type of trees, the minerals in the soil, and the different equipment and methods used. The qualities even vary from season to season and day to day.”
So why not try some out. Our favourite recipe on the North Pennine site is the marzipan almond cake with birch plums: but what do you think?
Take a look at the North Pennine Birch website; you can order a bottle direct there too. Let us know what you think if you do…