Eat Your Christmas Tree! Edible Pine Needles

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Ok, your Christmas tree will probably do better decked out in lights than it would on your plate, but pine needles are indeed edible and they can be a really fun ingredient to play with this time of year. Pine needles have a minty, fresh, and yes, pine-like flavor that make an intriguing component to everything from a roast to a round of cocktails. Have you ever experimented with this ingredient?

The most traditional way to use pine needs is to steep them hot water to make a simple tea high in vitamins A and C. This same pine needle tea can be used to flavor simple broth-based soups, breads, and sauces. Whole pine needles can also be used to infuse braises or in marinades for fish, meats, and other dishes. I could also definitely get behind the idea of cocktails made with pine-infused simple syrup or infused honey.

If you have a pine tree in your neighborhood, you can harvest your own needles. All pine needles are edible, though you may find that you like the flavor of some pines over others. Just be sure the tree hasn’t been sprayed with any pesticides or herbicides. Also, younger needles tend to have a milder flavor that works better for cooking. Young needles will be lighter in color and softer (less tough and brittle) than older needles. Also keep your eye out for pine needle tea at natural foods stores and co-ops.

What have you made with pine needles?