I spent Easter weekend out in Skykomish and marveled at the many shades of green on the drive up. Evergreen trees stood dark and pine-y against emerald colored leaves and lime-y new growth. It is truly a magical time in the tree canopy - just look around! On a recent walk in Discovery Park, I reached up and pulled a pale chartreuse bit from a fir trees outstretched limbs and chewed whilst strolling. Good stuff. It reminded me now is the PERFECT time to used this Fir-tip Syrup recipe!
The fir is a conifer tree (cone-bearing, woody trees & I'll be the first to admit that tree identification is not my forte) that can grow as tall as a NYC building and live several hundred years. Fir trees are in the same family with Pine and Spruce trees - the are the great giants of the forest. Tips from new needle growth can be clipped and harvested for syrups, salads or simply their herbaceous quality. Try some in place of rosemary in your next halibut dinner. Or drink it, like I recommend here.
Just as you'd suspect, this fir-tip syrup recipe is made with sugar water and fir tips. Cook them all together and let the fir greens steep, it's oils releasing into the liquid. Traditionally sugar is used for a simple syrup base, but I'll encourage you to consider some natural sweeteners like honey or pure maple syrup which both work using the same technique.
Fir tips are super woodsy tasting and smacks of a pine-y forest. The resin undertone works well with a floral gin or cedar-smoky bourbon - everyone is most often fond of some fir-tip syrup in a G&T, that woodsy syrup lending an lemon-y and pleasingly astringent flavor. (Skip the squeeze of lime.) I'm betting some of you will have ideas, too - leave them here!
This recipe is officially from Jennifer Hahn - Pacific Feast | A Cook's Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine. If you haven't picked up a copy and you actually LIVE in the Northwest and eat food daily, you must get your hands on this book immediately. It's available online from Skipstone Publishing (who conveniently also published both Urban Pantry & Fresh Pantry!) and at Book Larder in Fremont - the best food lovers bookstore in Seattle.
Spruce (or Fir) Tip Syrup
4 cups spruce (or fir) tips 4 cups water 2/3 cup sugar
In a medium saucepan, cover green tips with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Strain out green tips with a fine sieve, reserving liquid. Measure amount of liquid you have and add an equal amounts sugar. (1:1 water:sugar). Return syrup back to a boil and reduce until the consistency of syrup, about 30 minutes.