You Should Definitely Prepare the Syrup for the Christmas Tree.

Somewhere in the midst of a pandemic, I fell down a rabbit hole and learned all about how to knock on trees to make syrup. Yes, there are people among us ordinary people in areas all over America who knock on our trees to produce our own maple syrup.

I know.

I immediately began to glance suspiciously at all the trees in my area. Damn you, PNW, with your majestic skyline and dull forests of not maple trees.

What we have at the peak is pine and spruce, and making syrup from them doesn’t require the same labor as maple. (Learn how to make maple syrup and you’ll never complain about the price again.) Better yet, depending on where you live, this may be the best time to do it.

The first step is to find a tree – a living tree that is still growing in the ground, so your Christmas tree doesn’t fit, sorry. You want a fir or spruce and you want to make sure it isn’t sprayed. Seriously, if you’re not into tree identification, call a friend because not all pines are good for food.

Once you find this gorgeous specimen, you will want to pluck the lighter green growths at the tips. These are the tops of the spruce (or fir). Some trees form this growth in the spring, some in the fall, and sometimes it depends on the year and the weather. Monitor your tree for this growth and keep in mind that this is a new tree growth, so using all the clues from one tree will stop that tree. Spread it out a little, you know? You want to fill half of your grocery bag.

Drop the ends into a large bowl. Sprinkle with brown sugar on top and stir. You need to double the amount of sugar in relation to the tops of the eaten by weight (for 8 ounces of tops, use 16 ounces of sugar). Now pack it all in a jar, I mean pack it . Really shove it in there.

Leave it at room temperature in a sunny window and flip the jar over the next few weeks whenever you think about it. Over time, the sugar will draw moisture from the tips, forming a syrup. If you’re lucky, it will start to ferment, and if so, you should regurgitate the bottle every few days. (You will know you need to do this if you see bubbles.) You can use white sugar, but don’t. You can also add something to the mixture, such as juniper berries or young pine cones. Don’t add pumpkin spice. Do not insult the tops of the food.

After two months, you will see syrup. I use it straight out of the jar and let it hang as a living starter, but if you want it to last completely , pour it into a pot of needles and everything, let it simmer and then strain. Pour it into a jar while it is hot and it can keep in the refrigerator for up to three months.

Now: what to do about it ? Give cocktails, obviously. This stuff can make a hell of a hot punch, given how much vitamin C is in the tops of the spruce. I personally add soda to it when I get soda. You can also throw it into the fire cider you were thinking of. (Have you thought about that?).

When in doubt: use it like honey. I fell when I read about using spruce syrup as a frosting for pork belly. (Wow, my heart.) I suspect it will make a great butter , perfect for breakfast cookies. Imagine cranberry sauce in your party!

So, if cutting down and destroying trees to install in your living room doesn’t bring you enough notes from The Giving Tree this season, find a surviving spruce and follow (some) of its tips. Christmas tree syrup will not have the visual effect of the sacrament of a dead tree, but it will taste much better.

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