Drink Your Christmas Tree
By the time this reaches you it may, nay probably will, already be too late.
12 day advocates will have diligently dispensed with decor and festive firs on Sunday gone (or Saturday depending on your interpretation). If however, like us, you’ve slumped into January with a month long hangover and about as much energy for clearing out your now unwanted relics of the festive fortnight as a doped sloth, this could be for you. Summon your inner strength, be that you you blabbed on about up to midnight on new years, grab your shears (or buy some) and get trimming!
Please note, we used a whole tree for this as we’re batching for a 3 month menu in a commercial bar. This took a long time. Home enthusiasts can scale down and appropriate something much quicker.
First up check your tree is not poisonous before you batch to bottles and kill your friends. From our understanding anything with red berries is bad, or Yew in the title. Firs tend to be OK. Ours was a hardy Nordmann Fir that had been up for a month; drying out but still retaining that magic aroma.
Trim down some branches and get picking the pines needles, you don’t need to be too delicate here but try to avoid twigs and stray bits of plastic decor. Ideally we want the needles loosely chopped to release the scent but if you’re working with a pretty dried out tree this should come quite naturally through picking. Once you have a satisfactory amount of needles in a pot or measuring jug (bearing in mind that your harvest will yield about double that amount in syrup) rinse the leaves thoroughly under the tap with several blasts of cold water (at least until the water runs clean) and set aside to dry out. We picked 15 pints worth of needles. To put in context: that’s about two seasons and an aneurysm worth of Friends looping inanely in the background while two of us set to work. You needn’t exert yourself this hard. No-one needs to go through this.
Once you have your ‘chopped’ needles, have restored sanity to your fingertips and have measured out your pickings it’s time to make syrup. We work to equal parts pine:water:sugar. So whatever fluid volume of pine needles you have apply that to water and granulated sugar too. Using the same measuring jug here helps. Buy some water from the shop that’s been filtered as tap water will kill off your creation much quicker and get some decent sugar from some-place nice. This goes without saying really; it doesn’t need to be a wafty life-choice that spawns corduroy and a beard, just don’t-be-a-dick-in-2019.
Mix the sugar and water and bring slowly to the boil while stirring constantly. If you don’t do this the sugar will sit at the bottom of the pan and just caramelise. Heat low and slow because you don’t want too much water to evaporate. Once you hit boiling point that’s the time to get the pine in. But, instead of taking off the heat immediately, ramp it up for a sec until you feel it boiling properly again. Adding cold needles to hot syrup will bring the temperature down. We want all the needles to feel that high heat to kill off any undesirables so it’s worth going hard on the hob for a second or two.
Mix everything together thoroughly, squeeze in a little lemon juice (this will help preserve), mix again and then set aside to steep for up to 24 hours. You check intermittently on your work for potency by lifting the lid and copping a smell. Winter in Lapland: good - wet dog: bad (don’t pick up dead trees from the street!)
Once you’re happy strain through muslin cloth (twice) and part into sealed glass bottles in the fridge. This should keep for up to 3 months.
We add CBD extract to ours but how would be telling ☃︎