Scrape black birch and it smells like wintergreen. Boil it and you’ve got the basis for an old-fashioned Americana soda that’s somewhere in the root beer family. This recipe is insanely easy, but with one (somewhat crucial) caveat: birch trees.
- Black Birch Saplings
- Sugar (or Honey or Molasses)
Essentially, we’re making a syrup to add to seltzer. There’s a naturally-carbonated Birch Beer recipe that uses yeast and a short fermentation period, but this ain’t that. Honestly, the syrup-soda method is so much quicker.
First, you’re gonna need birch. And luckily, it’s the dandelion of trees. If there’s one, there’s a million, and the younger the better.
Take saplings and especially the new growth and strip the leaves. You’ll want to cut the birch into wine-cork-sized chunks. Volume-wise, you’ll want enough to fill a gallon (4 L) of space.
That being said, what even is a gallon of space, anyway? So figure enough cork-sized pieces to fill a miniature dachshund or a fat cat.
Put everything in a large stock pot and add 3-4 gallons (12-16 litres) of water. The exact amount doesn’t really matter because you’re condensing down to your final product.
Next, bring your pot to a roaring boil, turn off the heat, and then let sit overnight. This allows the birch to steep and impart its wintergreen flavor to the water.
In the morning, you’ll also notice that the pieces have become waterlogged and fallen to the bottom of the pot. Now you don’t have to push your pieces under the surface to ensure everything’s fully used.
Bring the pot back to a boil and continue to simmer until you have about 3 cups (0.8 L).
The visible water level will drop beneath your biomass, so just be mindful where things are as you near the end.
(At this point, your house is smelling pretty amazing, btw…)
Next, strain your liquid through a coffee filter or something comparable. I used my Chemex.
Now transfer your filtered liquid to a saucepan and add 2 cups (400g) sugar. If you’d rather substitute honey or molasses instead, go for it.
Simmer just long enough to dissolve your sugar, then turn off your heat and let it cool.
Finally, add your black birch syrup to seltzer in a ratio of 1:1 over ice.