How to Milk a Tree (and other white trash tales)

Summer has come to the north (yes, it does do that) and here at the Rishel compound that means it’s time to get your hick on! So sit back, crack a Bud and get your paws off your sister while I share the latest goings on at Camp Hayseed (before the rev’nuers find out and run us outta here).

Birch wine. A new one this year. To date we’ve managed to successfully ferment Apples, strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb. Why not try trees? A special thanks goes out to neighbors T&R whose delightful introduction to tree milking made this batch of intoxicant possible.

“You must tap the tree after the ground has thawed and released the first mosquitoes of spring, no sooner.” Hmm. Who gave you this recipe, Snow White’s evil stepmother?? Luckily my neighbors sensed my skepticism. A few months later they arrived with a bucket and a hose and said “Tap now.” Here is a photo tour of what happened next:

3/4" hole at an upwards angle. 1-2" into the tree




Use a 3/4 inch drill to bore a 1.5-2 inch hole at an angle up into a birch tree that is at least ten inches in diameter. Stuff a food grade rubber hose (or a tap) into the hole. Tape the other end of the hose into a food grade receptacle. Wait for sap to run.

Here I used a five gallon glass carboy. Not a good idea. A five gallon glass carboy is very heavy. Fill it with five gallons of birch sap and it get’s worse. Next year I’ll use several one gallon plastic water jugs. It took about six days to get ten gallons of sap but I’m told that varies with each tree and each spring.






The recipe:


3 gallons birch sap

6# sugar

6 chopped lemons

24oz raisins

6 Tablespoons yeast

Follow wine making instructions.

If you want to know what those are, it will have to be another post.

Here is what it looks like after 1 week in the secondary fermentor:

Ideally it will look less like urine when it’s ready to drink.



Bottled. Maybe 13-15% alcohol


Ta Da!! Bottled and ready to age. Just a little bit to help with the color and clarity.

I ran out of wine bottles. Luckily we had a few empty Smirnoff containers lying around. The wine in that will not get much aging. S’OK I’ll drink with my eye’s closed.






Smoking Fish: Better for your body and way more legal than any other smoke in the world!

We do this a few times a year. Most of our catch we preserve with a cold, or scotch, smoke. It is fabulous. I am not kidding, this fish takes you places. Show up at a party with scotched salmon and A listers start knocking down your door for hand outs. The recipe is simple but not many people are brave enough to attempt it. It’s not an activity for those short on time, or patience or firewood… The complete process spans about four days. That’s four day stuck at home, babysitting fish.

This is a photo of Mowlgi working a hot, or kippered, smoke recently. Start to finish using this method is a day and a half. We were feeling lazy.

That slick beige piece of high-tech equipment to the right is our smoker. Sorry, it is not for sale.
The noble savage at work. Just so you don’t think we really are a couple of backwoods rednecks, his light afternoon read is “The History of the Mongol Empire”.


PS, sorry about the askew layout on the site. Web designer went off the reservation. Don’t worry, shot gun’s loaded. We’ll git him.


2 thoughts on “How to Milk a Tree (and other white trash tales)”

  1. That birch tree moonshine is pretty nifty! My Dad is into making his own beer, and has even started making his own yeast for the beer. Beer lovers think his brew turns out well, but I prefer mixed cocktails, so I’ll never know.

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