Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
It’s that time of year again, folks. As everyone returns, bleary eyed, to post-Christmas normalcy, we’re having to lug our beloved Christmas trees down to the recycling point, spilling a trail of pines behind us as we go.
It’s always depressing saying goodbye to your Christmas tree for another year.
But we’ve got the perfect way to make the process more fun. Did you know you can actually eat it rather than chucking it away?
Eating your Christmas tree
Yup, it might sound like a bonkers TikTok trend, and we wouldn’t judge you for assume we’re having you on, but the truth is many chefs actually advocate for cooking your Christmas tree.
What’s more, they even promise it’s rather delicious…
“You can pretty much eat the whole thing,” Julia Georgallis, author of “How To Eat Your Christmas Tree,” said in a recent interview with The Guardian. “You can use the needles as you would use rosemary or bay leaves, for flavour.”
She’s not alone, either. John Williams, executive chef of the Ritz, advocates for the “fragrant and spicy” flavour of the needles and suggests using them with root vegetables like celeriac.
Meanwhile, René Redzepi, who works at three-Michelin-starred Noma in Copenhagen, told the Observer that he’s been cooking with pine for two decades.
And to think we’ve been chucking our tree out the whole time!
Cooking with pine needles
There are loads of ways to cook with pine needles, but Georgallis suggests a few top tips.
- Blend the needles into vinegar to pickle eggs or vegetables
- Crush them to flavour a gin
- Char them in the oven and then pulse in a blender to create a powder for seasoning
- Replant the tree and eat the new buds when they sprout
But why eat your Christmas tree?
Cooking with pine needles is definitely a cheffy move – there’s no doubt about that – but you might be wondering why chefs are encouraging us normal folk to eat our Christmas trees.
The answer, of course, is sustainability, and getting the most out of everything we consume.
If you’re buying a Christmas tree, why not also use it to spruce up a few meals, rather than simply disposing of it when the holidays are over? When you think about it, it’s a no brainer, really.
Speaking about what drove her to write her book, Georgallis told the paper that climate change has “made everyone a lot more aware of how they’re eating, what they’re eating [and] how they buy and grow stuff.”
She adds that it’s best for people not to buy Christmas trees at all, seeing as one five-foot tree is usually about 12 years old, and has to be cut down simply so we can use it as decoration. However, the food writer and chef concludes that if people are going to continue the tradition, they may as well use them to the fullest.
Not thrown your tree away yet? You know what to do… Pine needle gin, anyone?