Using Tree Bark Flours in Cooking


This blog post discovers the Scandinavian practices of making use of tree bark flours in food preparation– particularly making use of birch and also want barks in the foods of native Sami society.


Birch trees tapped for syrup, in March. photo credit: Josh Pollen

Birch trees touched for syrup, in March. picture debt: Josh Plant pollen

Papery white bark, lengthy lean trunks with eye-like knots, the heating pleasant scent of the sauna– birch trees (both Betula pubescens spp. and also B. pendula spp.) are a famous icon of the Nordic area. They were amongst the earliest trees to re-colonize the land after the last glacial epoch (Kullman, 2002) and also expand perfectly around the North Hemisphere with types extending from Morocco to Greenland ( In addition to their distinct external look, lots of components of birch are likewise utilized for food: their sap is commonly intoxicated fresh, condensed right into syrup, and also also made right into beer (Buhner, 1998), and also the little buds, collected in the wintertime prior to they start to fire, are deeply resinous and also fragrant. Yet birch’s fantastic gastronomic possibility does not finish below. Listed below the external bark, the internal bark has an attractive red colour and also a wonderful woody fragrance, and also can bring an one-of-a-kind flavour to lots of meals.

Flour from the inner birch bark, dried, ground, and sifted

Flour from the internal birch bark, dried out, ground, and also sorted

This internal bark is likewise called phloem, the layer in between the distinct papery external bark and also internal wood. It is a living cells, being composed significantly of specialized filtering system sieve-cells for transportation of water and also nutrients, starch-storing cells, and also various other customized cells for architectural assistance of the tree (Sjölund, 1997). It is via the phloem that sap trips in very early springtime, lugging sucrose and also various other nutrients to nurture the tree as it starts to bud. Contrasted to the external bark and also internal wood, phloem has a reduced focus of anti-digestive substances such as lignin and also phenols (Chaney, 2003); as a matter of fact, it is fairly healthy, with around 1000-1200 calories per kg, though it has a tendency to have a bitter preference.

Figure 1 - General tree anatomy and physiology. A tree’s bark and wood consists of many distinct layers: the exterior bark comprised of dead, accumulated cells is called the rhytidome, while the entire outer bark layer is called the periderm; the inner bark is also called phloem and consists of vascular tubes to transport nutrients; the thin cambium below is made of living tissue that builds the phloem outward and provides a protective barrier against rot and disease; the sapwood is the newly formed wood containing living tissues and water; the heartwood is older, dryer and the core of the tree’s structural stability. Drawing by Anna Sigrithur.

Number 1– General tree makeup and also physiology. A tree’s bark and also timber contains lots of unique layers: the outside bark consisted of dead, collected cells is called the rhytidome, while the whole external bark layer is called the periderm; the internal bark is likewise called phloem and also contains vascular tubes to deliver nutrients; the slim cambium listed below is made from living cells that develops the phloem external and also offers a safety obstacle versus rot and also illness; the sapwood is the freshly created timber consisting of living cells and also water; the heartwood is older, clothes dryer and also the core of the tree’s architectural security. Attracting by Anna Sigrithur.

The external birch bark has actually been commonly utilized as a structure product, and also for food storage space and also conservation as a result of the antimicrobial homes of betulin, a substance (as the name would certainly recommend) which the tree has in wealth (Haque et alia 2014). Use the phloem, nevertheless, has actually not been recorded virtually as commonly. One team that traditionally makes use of the internal bark is the Sami individuals of north Scandinavia, for whom the birch tree is virtually as main to their way of living as the reindeer. They normally gather the bark from trees dropped for lumber, fire wood, waterproofing, or inventions, peeling it off in huge sheets from the smooth trunks while still fresh. Conventional technique advises versus collecting bark from the complete area of a living tree lest its nutrient circulation be removed (Laila Spik, individual interaction, 2015)– a procedure called girdling, utilized in various other contexts to handle woodlands and also also to expand very huge veggies. When collected, the red brownish, nearly cork-like phloem is divided from the external bark and also delegated completely dry either in the sunlight, by a fire or timber range, or in a dehydrator. It is after that ground right into flour and also utilized to make bread and also biscuits. Birch flour does not consist of the gluten healthy proteins normally called for to provide bread framework and also communication, and also because of this it is seldom utilized alone in cooking. More frequently it is combined with wheat or rye flour to make the dough a lot more natural, and also to smooth its bitter preference. Bread making use of birch bark flour, for instance, has actually been made in Sweden and also Finland for centuries (Zackrisson et al., 1999).

Right here is a dish for a straightforward birch bark bread. The crumb has an attractive red tone and also an one-of-a-kind fragrance, nearly evocative raspberries.

Birch bark bread

600 g entire grain flour
400 g tipo 00 flour
75 g birch flour
20 g salt
925 g water
200 g sourdough starter

Incorporate components and also saturate over night. The following early morning include 200 g sourdough. Over the following 4-5 hrs transform the dough every 45-60 mins by bring up one edge and also folding it over onto itself. Provide the dish a quarter turn and also repeat up until you have actually made it right around.

Forming loaves right into limited rounds and also allow them relax for 20 mins. After that fold them right into limited plans and also location in a climbing basket. Enable to increase for 2-3 hrs.

Location Dutch stove with cover right into stove and also preheat stove to 250 ° C. When warm, go down the dough right into the pot, rating, and also placed the cover back on. Decline temperature level to 230 ° C and also cook for 20 mins. Get rid of the cover and also cook for one more 25 mins up until the crust transforms an attractive gold brownish.


The bark from the tough, old pines (Pinus sylvestris spp.) of north Scandinavia is likewise a resource of flour for breads and also cooking. The Sami commonly gather the bark from living trees in upright strips that cover no greater than one-third around a tree’s area– a technique called ‘window pane-ing’ (Laila Spik, individual interaction, 2015). Usually the strip is collected making use of a steel or bone blade to make straight cuts on top and also base of the strip after that making use of a scrape to peel off the disrobe up and down, leaving the cambium intact listed below (Zackrisson et al., 1999). Collecting took place throughout a lot of the snow-free months, although particularly in June, and also was frequently performed by ladies (ibid.). Before the 19 th century, the trees were frequently removed on the north/northwest/northeast side of the trunk, and also very first strippings were more than likely to be dealing with north, with succeeding ones dealing with various other instructions (ibid.). Remarkably, proof of removing from the 19 th century does not suggest a certain choice for instructions.

A pine tree with evidence of bark regrowth over an old 'window-pane', in northern Sweden.

An evergreen with proof of bark regrowth over an old ‘window-pane’, in north Sweden.

In the days prior to modern-day interaction, seeing fresh home window panes on evergreen was a signal to taking a trip Sami that were living neighboring (Laila Spik, individual interaction, 2015). Undoubtedly these window-panes are still noticeable on some Lapland pines, some expanded over for centuries: the 700-800 years of age pines around Laila’s house, near Stora Sjöfallet National forest, sign up proof of one of the most energetic continual use want bark of throughout Sweden throughout the duration in between 1450 and also 1890 (Zackrisson et al., 1999). Pines are much less preferable than birch for fire and also building, and also are therefore normally dropped much less typically, so collecting professionally from the living tree is suitable in this instance. The pines where bark was collected were likewise in lots of thought about situations spiritual, and also would certainly not be utilized for fire wood likewise because of this (ibid.).

The consuming of evergreen bark in the Nordic areas has actually frequently been considered as a scarcity task– yet the historic proof recommends or else:

“There is no indication in our records that historically well-known famine years resulted in more bark being peeled in those years (see also Niklasson et al. 1994). This may strengthen the interpretation that inner bark was not a famine food for Sami, in contrast to what has been described among Nordic and Finnish farmers (Hansson 1996). The use of bark for food among Sami people was instead always described in the 1600’s and 1700’s as a normal staple food resource (Schefferus 1674; Leem 1767; Rheen 1897; Graan 1899; Lundius 1905; Drake 1918). It has also been pointed out that rich Sami families with many tamed reindeer and large milk production normally collected the largest quantities of Scots pine inner bark for food (Drake 1918), which is understandable as inner bark was often mixed into milk (Schefferus 1674).” (Zackrisson et al., 1999)

Therefore, when it pertains to Sami society, use want bark might have been far more gotten in touch with riches (in the kind of even more reindeer and also their milk) than hardship and also starvation. However, making use of bark in the 18 th and also 19 th centuries was typically called primitive and also as an indication of severe hardship (ibid.). The 19 th century saw main cases that consuming bark and also its items threatened and also undesirable; Swedish authorities produced extreme publicity versus making use of bark for food; and also from 1870 onwards Swedish regulations prohibited the harvesting of bark from trees expanding on crown land (ibid.).

There are lots of papers recommending that want flour be made from the phloem likewise to birch (MacWelch, 2014; Gottesfeld 1992; Zackrisson et al., 1999). Nonetheless, Laila’s dish for making want bark flour is just to gather the shaggy external bark (rhytidome) which can be exfoliated fairly quickly with a sharp blade. The grey surface area is weathered and also can be disposed of in favour of the rusty-coloured, fragrant layers existing listed below, simply over the smooth, white cambium. Comparable to the approach for birch, the collected want bark flakes ought to be dried out and also ground right into a flour making use of a rock mill, a mortar and also pestle, an electrical mixer or mill, or a mix of these techniques. The want flour is after that combined with wheat, spelt or rye flour and also normally baked right into slim knäckebröd, or Swedish crisp bread. It is likewise well recorded that the phloem and also cambium can be made right into flour by removing the rhytidome and also periderm and also peeling off the cambium off in sheets, dehydrating it, and after that grinding right into powder (Zackrisson et al., 1999). This type of collecting ought to just be done on non-living branches or trees due to the damages it would certainly do to the living tree. Tiny items of the cambium can likewise be delighted in as a fresh mid-harvest reward, with a sweet taste and also appearance evocative fresh coconut meat.

Nutritionally, the periderm and also rhytidome are not as charitable as the phloem or cambium as they do not consist of starches or carbs absorbable to human beings (Chaney, 2005). Nonetheless, they do consist of compressed tannins called procyanidins that are being looked into for prospective wellness advantages (Li et al., 2015). Fragrant hydrocarbons such as terpenes and also phenols which provide want its distinct cozy, woody fragrance likewise provide antimicrobial homes, possibly helpful for mixing with various other flours to maintain their life span. The phloem of the want is abundant in ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), which throughout the 1800 s assisted the Sami of the inside of Norway and also Sweden prevent the scurvy that went to the moment ruining the seaside populaces of non-Sami farmers (Zackrisson et al., 1999).

Making pine bark flatbread with Laila Spik in northern Sweden.

Making want bark flatbread with Laila Spik in north Sweden.

I [Anna] found out exactly how to make this bread from the external bark from Laila Spik when I was gaining from her this summertime; the fragrance that loads the kitchen area while these are cooking is alluring and also resinous, similar to a stroll in the want woodland.

Laila delights in to share her dish with want bark flatbread with anybody that is interested. You can contact her at [email protected] (or have a look at her site).

Another batch of pine bark bread made at the lab

An additional set of want bark bread made at the laboratory

I have actually lately been servicing one more dish with the want bark flour, which we offered on Monday at an event to commemorate the 1-year wedding anniversary of our relocate to KU and also the past, existing and also future of NFL.

Pine bark cookies

75 g sugar
113 g butter
1 egg white
60 g want bark flour
90 g wheat flour
2g cooking powder
2g salt

1. Stove 180 ˚C, 10% moisture.
2. Lotion with each other the butter and also sugar; include gently defeated egg white.
3. Filter with each other completely dry components and also gradually contribute to creamed mix. Mix till integrated.
4. The mix must be fairly fatty. Cover, and also location in fridge for one hr.
5. Roll in between sheets of parchment extremely thinly (at this moment it might be useful to place the presented sheet in the fridge freezer for 5 mins to firm it up a little), and after that eliminated cookie forms (I utilized 30 mm circle cutter).
6. Cook on silicone for 5 mins– much less if they are extremely little, and also a lot more if they are bigger.
7. Awesome and also appreciate sandwiching this yummy bastard:

Celeriac white delicious chocolate buttercream

approx. 300 g celeriac ( 1/2 huge), peeled off and also reduced right into 5cm portions
milk for poaching
90 g white delicious chocolate items
50 mL whipping cream
2 sheets jelly

1. Poach the celeriac till extremely soft in 2 modifications of milk.
2. Allow trendy and also pressure away milk (conserve for scrumptious rooty toot tootin’ cappucinos !!)
3. Purée with mixer, after that go through tamis to eliminate fibers.
4. Warmth the lotion and also delicious chocolate over a bain marie, blend to incorporate.
5. Soften jelly in some water and also thaw over bain marie with a dashboard of lotion. Blend jelly right into delicious chocolate mix.
6. Put over celeriac puree and also mix extensively. Spread right into container and also allow cool down for at the very least 4 hrs.
7. Purée celeriac white delicious chocolate once more for level of smoothness; spread out on fifty percent of your want cookies and also ever before so carefully leading with one more want cookie (they are fragile blossoms).
8. Place in the fridge to establish once more, half a hr. Offer promptly and also appreciate or they might come to be soaked.

The finished pine bark oreo.

The completed want bark oreo.


Avery composed the very first variation of the Birch area, and also established the bread dish. Anna composed the Pine area, established the want biscuit dish, and also upgraded details and also included citations throughout.

Functions Cited

Buhner, Stephen Harrod. Spiritual and also Organic Recovery Beers: The Tricks of Old Fermentation. Siris Books: Stone. 1998.

Chaney, William R. “Why Do Animals Eat The Bark and Wood of Trees and Shrubs.” Woodland and also Natural Resources (2003): n. pag. Purdue College, Aug.2003 Internet. 30 June 2014.

“Digestibility of Plants.” Plant Framework & Feature. College of Waikato, n.d. Internet. 30 June 2014.

Gottesfeld, Leslie M. Johnson. The significance of bark items in the indigenous economic situations of Northwestern British Columbia, Canada. Economic Ecology, 46:2. 148-157 Internet. 29 October 2015.

Haque, S., Nawrot, D. A., Alakurtti, S., Ghemtio, L., Yli-Kauhaluoma, J., Tammela, P. “Screening and Characterisation of Antimicrobial Properties of Semisynthetic Betulin Derivatives.” Panepinto J, ed. PLoS ONE. 2014; 9( 7 ): e102696 doi: 10.1371/ journal.pone.0102696

Huebner, Matt. “Study Shows Metabolic Benefits of Birch Bark.” Following Degree Nourishment. N.p., 14 May2011 Internet. 30 June 2014.

Kullman, L. (2002). “Boreal tree taxa in the central Scandes during the Late-Glacial: implications for Late-Quaternary forest history.” Journal of Biogeography, 29: 1117–1124 doi: 10.1046/ j.1365-2699200200743 x

Li, S., Xu, M., Niu, Q., Xu, S., Ding, Y., Yan, Y., Guo, S. & Li, F. Effectiveness of Procyanidins versus In Vivo Cellular Oxidative Damages: An Organized Evaluation and also Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE. 1 October2015 Internet. 29 October 2015.

Lindsey, Rebecca. “The Migrating Boreal Forest : Feature Articles.” The Moving Boreal Woodland: Attribute Articles. NASA Planet Observatory, 20 Aug.2002 Internet. 30 June 2014.

MacWelch, Tim. “Survival Foods: Can You Really Eat Tree Bark? | Outdoor Life Survival.” Survival Foods: Can You Truly Consume Tree Bark?|Outdoor Life Survival. Outdoor Life, 9 Nov.2011 Internet. 30 June 2014.

Sjölund, Richard D. The Phloem Filter Aspect: A River Goes through It. The Plant Cell, 9. 1137-1146 July1997 Internet. 29 October 2015.

Zackrisson, O., Ostlund, L., Korhonen, O., and also Bergman. The old use Pinus sylvestris L. (Scots want) internal bark by Sami individuals in north Sweden, pertaining to social and also environmental variables. Plant Life Background and also Archaeobotany, 9:2. 99-109 July 2000.

Initial released on Nordic Food Laboratory

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