Christmas Tree Infusions
Updated: Dec 31, 2020
Don't you love the smell of a fresh Christmas Tree?
So do I, but now I can confirm that it tastes as good as it smells!
It's the time of year where many of us that celebrate the Christmas season bring home a Christmas tree that eventually gets thrown out sometime after the new year.
Many debate whether a fresh or fake tree is more sustainable, but what if we could use fresh trees and before disposing of them trim off all the firs and spruces to use as flavorings for our food and cocktails?
Personally, I think it's totally worth it to have a fresh Christmas tree if you're going to use it for something besides decorating your house!
And the best part is that you can use it for so many drinks! Fermentations, Sodas, Salt rims, Smokes, etc.
But today we are going to follow a recipe that is relatively easy for anyone to do at home.
Infusing Firs & Spruces
In order to extract the most amount of flavor from your Christmas Tree branches, make sure that the branches haven't completely dried out.
You will need a decent amount even if you are going to infuse only a little bit of a spirit.
Take note that different Christmas Trees will produce different flavors for your homemade ingredients, some of which are more potent than others.
Firs typically have more aroma to them and will transmit more flavor into drinks, while spruces have less.
The best tree branches you can use from most fragrant to least are:
Colorado Blue Spruce
Infuse Your Gin
Probably the easiest and tastiest way to get the most out of your Christmas Tree Firs is to infuse them with a spirit.
Now while there is always plenty to choose from when infusing something, the best and most obvious spirit of choice for this recipe is of course...GIN!
Gin already has some spice notes to it (depending on your gin) from roots, herbs, botanicals, dried ingredients, etc making Christmas Tree flavors fit perfectly well with it.
Some Gins usually have a dry aftertaste to them that work great with these aromatic branches (like London Dry Gins).
Above all, almost every classic gin cocktail WILL work with Christmas Tree flavors: Gin & Tonics, Martinis, Martinez, Gimlets, Aviations, Negronis, you name it!
So for this infusion, make sure you have:
Christmas Tree Branches
Pot of Water
Thermometer (or Sous Vide if you have one)
Fine Mesh Filter
To make Christmas Tree Gin the best way, you'll have to Sous Vide the branches with the Gin.
You need to sous vide everything with your spirit in order to extract the most out of your firs or spruce branches. Simply letting them sit without heating them up won't release enough flavors from the branches. It's essential that there is enough heat for the gin to absorb flavor, but not too much that it evaporates.
Cut Your Branches & Sous Vide
For my batch, I am making a very small amount of Christmas Tree Gin.
Make sure that for every 5 ounces (150ml) of Gin you have about 6 decent sized Fir or Spruce branches freshly cut off from your Christmas Tree.
Grab them all with your fist, and with a knife or a scissor, chop your branches into tiny pieces.
Chopping them will help release more flavors into your liquid, and as you can tell from cutting them up, the whole kitchen will smell like a brand new and fresh Christmas tree!
Once chopped, place everything in a jar and pour in your Gin or spirit of choice.
Shake everything up and place the jar in a pot or container of water heated up to 150°F / 65°C for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Because I don't have a Sous Vide at home, I use a household pot and thermometer keeping a close eye on the temperature and time (as shown in the picture above).
After carefully regulating the flame to make sure the temperature stays around 65°C, you'll notice that your infusion will turn green. If you leave it in for longer, it will begin to turn yellow, so my suggestion would be to remove it from the heat.
This could happen sooner than 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on the type of tree you have and the ABV of your spirit.
As you may notice, mine turned out a bit yellow, but still packed with the necessary flavor for my cocktails.
Once the container is cool, strain everything out using a fine mesh filter to retrieve your infused spirit.
And there you have it! Freshly infused Christmas Tree Gin to preserve those Christmas flavors for the rest of the holidays and winter!
Use it for any of the cocktails mentioned previously above and have a play around with it!