Christmas Trees are good for us!
Supplied by Totally Wild UK
Our suppliers use this interchangeably with Douglas Fir as they are used for the same thing and have a very similar flavour.
This tree may have an unfortunate name, but it is not related to the poisonous hemlock plant!
It also looks similar to the toxic Yew, so don't go picking something that looks like this without being trained in plant identification by an experienced person. We only work with highly experienced foragers, so you can be confident that you are in safe hands.
Whilst yew tree leaves taste acrid and bitter, the leaves of western hemlock taste like grapefruit.
I bet you didn't even know that the leaves from this tree were edible! Not only that but they're a great source of vitamin C, pro-vitamin A and antioxidants.
Spending time in forests has been shown to boost the immune system, chiefly increasing the number of killer cells (1,2,3), through inhaling a variety of compounds known as terpenes. Make sure you have a good whiff of your Douglas Fir leaves. If you wish you can put a little under your pillow for some overnight inhaled terpene goodness!
We recommend you boil up a sprig of this to enjoy as a cup of tea with a little honey or a slice of lemon.
You can also add this to soups, casseroles, stews or even gravy, as a replacement for herbs. It has a pine/citrus like flavour and goes really well with bay leaves.
You can stuff your nut roast or your meat with it and you can even roast vegetables or potatoes on top of it, to give them a wonderful flavour.
Did you know that trees talk to and take care of each other? They can send biochemical messages in terpenes in the air, as well as through underground root systems that are created by symbiotic fungal colonies. This communication network transfers nutrients from bigger trees, to its saplings and those with insufficient access to nutrients. Trees also warn one another about the arrival of pests or diseases so they can increase their natural immunity.
To learn more about Trees I highly recommend 'The Secret Life of Trees' by an enlightened agriculture advocate Colin Tudge