Well, Christmas is definitely over. The Christmas tree has been stripped of it’s decorations… and many of it’s branches. It’s the start of a new year tomorrow, and the start of a new cooking adventure – cooking with my Christmas tree!
I’m hoping I can convince some of you to embark on this adventure with you or, at the very least, plant a thought-seed and inspire you to do this next year. As such, here are my tips for pruning your tree:
Start with the ends of the branches. The ends of the brances aren’t as thick and sappy as the inner parts of the branches. The very tips (say, the last 5cm of each branch) are going to be the best ones for using as sprigs to flavour roasts and the likes. You don’t want to use the thicker parts and end up with sticky sap in your meals. Put the tips of the pine branches into zip lock bags (you can chuck them all in the same one, you don’t have to bother doing just one in each bag) and freeze them. Use them much as you would a sprig of rosemary – simply to impart a delicate flavour into a roast dish, rather than eating the actual needles.
Then the thicker parts (the next 5cm or so) will be good for the pine needle powder, as you won’t even use the twigs – just the needles.
Cut the next 5cm or so off the Christmas tree branches. Strip each twig of it’s needles, and place the needles in a strainer. Rinse needles, and spread on dehydrator trays. Dry on 52 degrees celsius for about 10 hours, or until the needles can be snapped in half (i.e. no moisture left, and the needles snap cleanly rather than bending). Once completely dry, place half of the pine needles in the thermomix bowl. Grind on speed 10 for about 1 minute. Add the remaining pine needles and grind on speed 10 for 2 minutes. And there you have it – Christmas tree powder! Pop it in a jar, and start experimenting. And keep an eye on my blog for recipes to which I add a bit of festive flair!
Don’t forget to head over to the Homemade, Healthy, Happy facebook page and show your support. I hope everyone has a good celebration tonight. Happy New Year! 🙂