Quality Matters - But How Do You Know It’s Good Quality Birch Sap?
Birch sap is a unique and very sensitive natural product, and to produce it at a commercial scale requires professional quality control and state-of-the-art production processes. When sap goes bad, it has a stale taste, it might become cloudy, and develop an unpleasant smell. But how do you know in the first place if the sap is genuinely good quality?
Read on to find out how Nordic Koivu has discovered the best way to maintain the shelf-life of our perishable birch sap, and keep it pure and natural, whatever the time of year.
Unique Birch Sap
Birch sap is one of the world’s most sensitive naturally produced commodities, and only a few people manage its commercial production successfully.
The reason birch sap is so sensitive and perishable, is that it is an exceptionally effective and fast growing medium for various microbes, bacteria, yeasts and moulds in the environment. These cause the juice to spoil – high microbial levels make the sap go cloudy and smell.
When the sap is rising inside the tree, it is completely pure. As soon as it is tapped and reaches the outside, however, it is vulnerable to various microbes in the environment which readily multiply if given chance – the less time it is exposed to the outside, the less yeast, bacteria and mould can get in.
Special care must therefore be taken when collecting the unique and delicate sap so that, at no stage of the industrial process, does the sap become contaminated.
How to Recognise High-Quality Birch Sap?
When we talk about the quality of our sap at Nordic Koivu, we mean how we maintain its pure organic quality. This dictates the way we organise everything in a production process where we test the quality at every stage.
Consumers and experts in the beverage or cosmetics industry should consider the following when assessing the quality of birch sap and how it is produced:
Where does birch sap actually come from – is it really pure?
Several crucial factors are needed to commercially produce pure birch sap: uncontaminated soil for the trees grow in; a means of keeping the highly susceptible birch sap from getting contaminated; and monitoring of the sap at every stage (from tapping the trees to arriving on the shelf) to check it remains uncontaminated.
Birch sap consists mainly of water, which the tree takes from the soil via its roots. If the soil is contaminated with heavy metals from industry, intensive agricultural methods, or a large nearby human population, it will naturally affect the purity of the birch sap. When it is tapped and bottled, every care must be taken so that it is sealed off from the outside, and that all surfaces it comes into contact with are clean and do not contaminate the sap with harmful microbes or spores from the environment.
Nordic Koivu’s birch sap is pure because of the unpolluted soils of Finland, the state-of-the-art collection system, and our unique quality control that allows us to monitor the progress of the birch sap at every stage of the production process. This allows Nordic Koivu to trace each batch of birch sap right back to the precise copse it comes from in Northern Karelia. This unique and trademarked system of collection has been carefully designed and streamlined to minimise the risk of contamination.
Is the Sap Organic?
Birch sap is best straight from the tree – when nothing extra is added. Nordic Koivu birch sap’s is rare precisely because of its production with no sugar, no preservatives, no colouring nor artificial flavours being added. This means that Nordic Koivu birch sap is exactly the same life-giving water that the birch itself uses to grow.
Nordic Koivu birch sap is certified as a naturally produced organic product that has been processed, transported, and stored in accordance with the strict conditions required by the EU for such a certificate. The birch trees and every stage of the production process are inspected and certified by a third party every year. The symbol of a green leaf on the Nordic Koivu packaging represents our birch sap’s certified organic status.
How do we store the birch sap?
The greater the delay between tapping the trees and storing it in clean sterilised containers, the greater the chance of the sap spoiling. It is this susceptibility to microbial contamination that has long made storing birch sap the biggest challenge in its commercial production.
Many operators solve this either by adding E-numbers or by freezing it to help preserve the sap after tapping. However, both these methods risk significantly impairingthe beneficial qualities of the sap and can make it harder for the sap to be used in other commercial contexts.
We believe the best solution lies in a fast hygienic process and rigorous quality control. Nordic Koivu has been steadily developing this process over a long period, ensuring that the sap remains the same as when it leaves the tree, without the need for additives or freezing which only temporarily stop the growth of harmful microbes.
Nordic Koivu Quality Control in Practice
Careful and detailed quality control ensures that at every single step of the way the risk of contamination is minimised and that Nordic Koivu birch sap remains of the highest quality. Nordic Koivu has its own laboratory dedicated to measuring and monitoring the purity of the birch sap at every step of the production process – from when the sap is tapped to when it leaves our site for the customer, carefully packaged in sterilised bottles, cartons or containers.
Besides these internal quality control procedures, our company also sends samples of the sap in each batch to external laboratories, from every stage of the production process, so they can also check the overall quality and composition of the sap. Each batch is quarantined until the samples from that batch return from inspection.
As well as testing each batch, Nordic Koivu naturally ensures that all production facilities where the sap is processed are clean and sterile. All work surfaces, production lines, and the air in our facilities are tested on a daily basis. The hygiene level of our staff is also monitored, e.g., by taking regular finger samples.
Nordic Birch also requires a high level of hygiene from all its commercial suppliers. Only the very highest hygiene materials are selected for collecting, storing, and packaging the sap, so that no microbes are transmitted.
Discover the High Quality Birch Sap of Nordic Koivu!
Our efficient high-quality production process allows us to deliver birch sap in large batches around the world. North Karelian birch sap is used for a range of products in both the beverage and cosmetics industries, especially in Japanese, Chinese and Western and Central European markets. Most of the birch sap produced by Nordic Koivu is exported abroad as a drink in bottles and cartons.