Cherries produce delicious and nutritious fruits that are used in all areas of cooking. Carpenters use the wood from the trees to build furniture, dishes and even toys. However, the bark of a cherry tree is very thin, making it easy to draw sap from the wood. Unlike the case with maple trees, many people have no idea how to use sap from cherry trees or even if it can be used at all. This sap, however, provides a lot of information on the health and life of the tree and has many different uses.
Sap in the Tree
Cherry trees produce early fruit, which means their sap process starts earlier than most other fruit trees. The rising sap contributes to production of fruit and leaves and indicates the health of the plant. There are occasions, however, where an illness in the tree can produce an overabundance of fruit. Some arborists and tree doctors believe this is because the tree knows it's dying and is trying to propagate itself before the end.
Indicator of Illness
If you haven't bumped the tree or harmed it in some way, then the bleeding of sap from the tree can identify illness or infestation of pests that can and will harm your cherry tree. The most common culprits are peachtree borers or an infection called gummosis. Gummosis of cherry trees can come from a few different sources, including bacterial or fungal infections. Before using sap for anything else, always make sure your cherry tree is healthy and uninfected.
Sap in Food or Drink
Historians believe that Native Americans taught early settlers of the United States to use the residue of cherry tree sap as chewing gum. Because the sap is clear and tasteless and dries to a chewy consistency, it makes an easy, plentiful and sugar-free chewing gum. Also, using a bit of sap with cherries and sugar can help make a very powerful cherry brandy. You can take the all the ingredients, mix them together, and then let them sit for a period of time, usually longer than a month, and produce a delicious and powerful alcoholic beverage.
Sap as Glue
Another thing the Native Americans used the sap of the cherry tree for was a form of glue. The sap, when heated and blended with ash from animal fat, produced a very strong, water-soluble glue. It was useful for attaching arrowheads to hafts and blades to knife handles; however, it usually had to be covered with pine resin to waterproof the glue and prevent the loss of blades and arrowheads due to blood. Similarly, cherry sap mixed with cereal crops to make a thick paste could be spread on tree branches to capture small birds.