Eat Your Christmas Tree!
by Forager Megan @flintandfern
Hold your horses before you take your Christmas tree to the curb.
Did you know you can eat it?? I kid you not.
Spruce and Fir (and occasionally Pine) trees are the most commonly sold trees for Christmas, all of which are edible! Their resinous needles are deeply aromatic with hints of citrus when rubbed or chopped. Think of them as a cousin to rosemary; you’d use it in the same way and beyond.
For a Guide on identifying the difference between these Conifers Click here
“I’ve seen them used to flavour syrups, sugars, alcoholic infusions, salt rubs for meat or fish, added to biscuits, used as tea and more! Dried or fresh, it’s all good.”Forager Megan
By far my favourite recipe I’ve come across for how to use this versatile ingredient is this recipe for Apple & Christmas Tree Membrillo!
If you like your cheeseboard to come with a bit of quince paste, then this is for you! Instead of quinces, this recipe uses apples which are skinned, cooked, and infused with chopped spruce or fir needles for a delicious flavour before straining and letting the paste set. It’s so good! There will be plenty to go around once you’ve made it, so makes a nice giveaway as well.
- 15cm cooking dish
- 1kg apples
- 40g fir or spruce needles
- 1kg caster sugar
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Baking paper
- Food processor (helpful but not necessary)
- Peel & core the apples. Pop them in a pot with 100ml water and simmer till soft (30mins or so)
- Blitz the needles in a food processor (or remove from the stalks and chop with a knife)
- Mash the apples and weigh them. Add the same amount of sugar to the pot then heat to dissolve. Add the lemon juice and needles then simmer around 30 minutes.
- Strain the needles from the Membrillo. You may have to do this in batches pressing the paste through a sieve. Discard the needles. Return the Membrillo back to the pan and keep on the heat for another 30 minutes. It will continue to reduce, thicken, and turn a lovely red colour!
- The Membrillo is ready when a wooden spoon leaves a trace through the mixture. At this stage line your dish with baking paper, pour in the mix and wrap it tightly in a tea towel. Leave to set somewhere cool and dark for 14 days.
- This is an excellent way to preserve apples as the Membrillo will keep for a good few months if kept wrapped.
Enjoy with Cheese Cracker, pickles and some cured meats 🙂