Kahiltna Gold Birch Syrup

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Kahiltna Birchworks "2011 ALASKA MANUFACTURER OF THE YEAR" is a family run Alaskan business - a true cottage industry and the world's largest producer of pure organic birch syrup.

Alaska birch syrup is one of the rarest gourmet food products in the world, and one of the most difficult to produce. (see About Birch Syrup). Dulce Ben-East, Michael East, and partner, Sally Freund have operated the Alaskan "sugarbush", producing pure birch syrup, at the East Homestead - 35 miles off the Alaska road system at Quiet Lake - since 1990. The following video was filmed and produced at our homestead in spring of 2007 by Tom Pi - one of our very talented "sap suckers". Take time to enjoy it!

Dulce and Michael have aptly named their birch syrup "Kahiltna Gold". "Kahiltna" is an Athabascan word meaning "from the source". The Source refers to Denali,also an Athabascan word, meaning "the great one". The birch trees from which we draw sap for our birch syrup obtain their water from this source. This source, so far from human habitation, is pure and clean - as is the air, making Kahiltna Gold pure birch syrup free of pesticides, herbicides, and other pollutants. As of our 2008 harvest, our pure birch syrup and our birch breakfast syrup are certified organic.

Access to the our homestead is by float or ski plane, depending on the season or, in winter, overland 32 miles by snowmachine - through vast forests of birch and spruce and across frozen swamps, lakes, and rivers. We haul all our supplies, equipment, materials, food, fuel and helpers for the birch syrup harvest to the homestead by one of these methods.

homesteadQuiet Lake, where we live part-time and produced our birch syrup for the first 20 years, is a small lake nestled in the center of Alaska’s Susitna Valley, the vast river valley extending south of the Alaska Range. It lies just a half mile from the Kahiltna River that flows from the Kahiltna Glacier, 40 miles to the north, on the south flank of Denali. Denali, commonly referred to as Mt. McKinley, is North America's highest peak. Many climbers begin and end their ascent of Denali at base camp on the Kahiltna glacier. The Kahiltna River is traditionally a gold mining area; gold miners have staked claims along this river for decades hoping to make their fortune. Our birch syrup is our "Kahiltna Gold".

kitchenKahiltna Birchworks has grown over its 23-year existence. While originally tapping 200 trees, to produce our first "crop" of birch syrup in 1990, we tapped 8000 trees this spring, and purchased sap from 4,000 more.

Read about This Year's Harvest and Dulce's Blog
In 1999 Dulce and Michael, needing more space for a burgeoning business, built a small commercial Kitchen near Palmer, Alaska where they bottle the birch syrup and create their wonderful confections, toppings, and other delicious products using their pure birch syrup as an ingredient.

In 2007, the Easts introduced their "Alaska Wild Harvest" product line of "EXTREME" wild berry, low sugar jams. These jams are made using wild Alaskan blueberries, lingonberries (also known as low bush cranberries), and salmonberries. Wild northern blueberries and lingonberries are known for their anti-oxidant curative properties. The jams are not only nutritious - the are delicious! The birch-orange mustard, also a new product, has proved to be a winner among mustard-lovers, and the birched-honey is topping the charts - the Easts are constantly scouring the countryside for local honey so they can continue to offer birched-honey throughout the year. All of these products are now available at the website store.

In summer of 2009 we purchased property near Talkeetna - just 30 miles east of our Kahiltna River homestead - to build a new production facility, and harvested birch sap in the area for the first time in the spring of 2010. The past three years have been a very different harvest in a new location with a great crew - lots of changes. It is now particularly enjoyable for us to purchase sap from local enthusiasts as supplement to what our own sap suckers collected. From mid-May until mid-September, our "taste and tour" production facility is open to visitors. See Contact Us,Visit Us!! for information about what we will offer,and how and where to find us near Talkeetna. Come visit us if you are in the area!

Having harvested Chaga Mushroom on our homestead for years, and enjoyed the earthy tea we make from it, we decided recently to offer two chaga products here. Chaga has recently been "discovered" and information has exploded on the internet about the numerous health benefits of chaga. Wild Alaska chaga, coming from the purest environment and coldest climate, is said to be highest in those benefits. We love it, so ... to your health!! See more information on the health benefits and some recipes at our new page Wild Chaga Products.

The Easts follow the birch syrup best practices and production standards developed by the Alaska Birch Syrupmakers' Association, founded in 1993.

Dulce writes:

"Determined to maintain our Alaskan lifestyle, we challenge ourselves to make a living by using the abundant resources at hand - birch trees - in a sustainable manner. Though we now spend a good portion of the year at our Palmer, Alaska kitchen - and our new Talkeetna facility, we escape to our homestead whenever possible. It is now our refuge, and we go there to relax, restore, and reflect on what we have created. Due to the wonders of our solar panels and communications technology we have fixed-wireless phone service and a trusty fax machine. Some time soon we'll get satellite for internet, so we can spend more time at the home we love.

family"Both our lifestyle and our business depend greatly on Nature - a force much greater than ourselves. Weather determines the length and general success of our syrup season, our access to our home, method and expense of hauling necessary supplies, our ability to get to the post office or to town when necessary. Because of this, we are very much in tune with the natural rhythms of the seasons and keep a detailed log of events such as freeze-up, ice thickness on the lake, first snow, "break-up" (the spring thaw when the lake is no longer land-able and the rivers no longer cross-able), first sap in the birches, and appearance of the leaves, signaling the end of the sap harvest. "So, we have a great respect for and deference to Nature, and often must bend to her will. Though this sometimes causes a feeling of powerlessness, it is at the same time spiritually empowering to feel the strength of Nature so intensely, and in feeling fully connected to it, so very much a part of that rhythm.

I think many of our problems and frustrations as human beings result from our artificial separation from Nature in modern life. Though our life is at times more difficult than it would be if we were connected to Alaska's road system, the inconveniences are more than compensated when we return to the woods in winter after our time in town. We are awed at the depth of the silence, the milky way in all its splendor, the shimmering aurora, and the light of the full moon across the snow. Though we sometimes have cause to wonder, this is the time that our hard work pays off and we know it is worth it.

email us at admin@alaskabirchsyrup.com or
call us at 1-800-380-7457

Link to our story from NPR Radio: All Things Considered - Alaska Sap Suckers


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