More than 100 million Christmas trees are produced worldwide. Considering that it takes 8 to 12 years to produce a decent-sized tree, it seems rude to simply discard these Christmas symbols after the holidays.
Why don’t we make greater use of this living tree — as we make use of so many other kinds of plants on earth — by taking it to the kitchen? Foodpairing analysed the aroma profile of the Douglas fir to help you out.
Foodpairing potential of the Douglas pine or Christmas tree
The Douglas fir or Douglas pine is one of the most commonly marketed Christmas trees in the United States.
The young needles of the Douglas pine are excellent for cooking because they are characterised by intense woody, piney, spicy and slightly tropical aromas. Next to these forest flavours the needles have sweet, citrus like flavours.
Its citrus-like aromas link the Douglas pine to citrus ingredients such as yuzu, kaffir leaves, lemon. The piney side will link to white and green asparagus but also to gin.
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How to cook with your pine tree
The needles of the Douglas pine, or any other type of fir or spruce, can be used in different ways.
Pine tree spices
The needles of your tree can be dried and mixed into a powder that has a light, citrusy and very aromatic spice. They can be used to spice-up cooked rice, to rub it on chicken before roasting, to smoke your meat or to add flavour to your cookie dough.
Pine tree branches to add flavour
The branches of your Christmas tree are excellent flavour enhancers.
Also René Redzepi of the Danish Noma sees fir as an excellent ingredient to spice up his dishes.
“At my restaurant we use their needles as a spice. You can cook with a branch of spruce or fir as you would use a sprig of rosemary or thyme.”
In this New York Times movie Redzepi shows how to cook with spruce and asparagus. By attaching the asparagus to the fir branches, you can aromatise the asparagus with its intense woody, piney spicy spruce aromas.
Another example is a recipe made by our Foodpairing chef Peter Coucquyt, combining fir with asparagus and pinenuts.
Pine tree – Asparagus – Pinenuts
The asparagus are cooked al dente and some young pine shoots are added to the cooking liquid for extra pine-theme enforcement. This fir-flavoured liquid is seasoned and poured over the asparagus. The dish is finished off with a few drops chorizo oil, toasted pine nuts and Tahoon cress®.
Pine infused spirits
Many other applications are imaginable, such as infusion of oils, vinegar or even spirits.
The Belgian Spring Gin of bartender Manuel Wouters is produced using pine buds.
So think twice before you discard your Christmas tree and serve it for dinner.