If you're one of the 20-30 million people (in the US alone) who sacrifices a cute little pine, spruce, or fir tree every year for your sick pagan… er… Christian holiday rituals, maybe you should help balance your sap-thirsty karma by eating the tree when you're done.
That's the idea behind the cookbook, Eat Your Christmas Tree, by "artisan baker," Julia Georgallis. In this interview in Smithsonian Magazine, she talks about her inspirations behind the book, the surprising culinary experiences of tree flavorings, and shares some recipes.
In the book you use recipes that involve pine, fir and spruce trees, as you explain that other types such as cedar and cypress are poisonous to eat. What are the flavor profiles of those three trees and how did you choose trees for certain recipes?
Fir is really zesty and really grassy. I've used it in things like pickles, and things that need a sharper taste. Spruce is really surprising. It's not as grassy, it's more "orangey." The spruce in the ice cream I make actually gives it a vanilla taste. The blue spruce ice cream I make is actually my favorite recipe. And doing my research, what I ended up finding out is some of the earlier vanilla extracts, like artificial flavorings, had notes of spruce in them. Then pine doesn't taste like it smells. It's very delicate and almost floral. In some of the recipes if I give the option of all three, I say if you're using pine, you need to use a lot more of it.
As you might imagine, you're not actually preparing the tree in these recipes (oh, darn), just using the needles.
Image: Julia Georgallis