Method

In the spring, make a crosswise opening through the bark of a good, large, young birch tree, and tightly drive in a splint, similar to those used for rolling eggs, but shorter.** Attach a tub or vat to the splint to catch the flowing sap. A good tree may yield from 1–4 pails of sap, others none at all; therefore several trees should be tapped. Pour a full pail of birch sap into a one and one-half pail barrel, and add 3 bottles of cheap, light white wine, 1 bottle of low-quality Hungarian wine, 2 bottles of French brandy, 3–6 pounds of sugar, according to taste, and 3 pounds of good raisins. Plug the bunghole as tightly as possible, seal it all around, and set the barrel on ice for 2½ months. Bottle the birch drink, cork, seal, and place the bottles on their sides in sand in the cold cellar. After adding sugar, the birch juice must be shaken or stirred to dissolve the sugar.

*Birch wines were common in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century England and also were widely consumed in Colonial America. (Hartley, Food in England, 553–554; Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery, 384–385.)

**At Easter time Russian children played a game of rolling Easter eggs with a small trough-like piece of wood.

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