How to get rid of your Christ­mas tree? Eat it

The Mail on Sunday - - Femail - By Va­lerie El­liott

FOR most of us, work­ing out what to do with the Christ­mas tree af­ter the cel­e­bra­tions are over is worse than a fes­tive hangover.

But now a top chef has come up with a novel so­lu­tion… in­stead of try­ing to take it to the lo­cal rub­bish tip, turn it into a de­li­cious culi­nary treat in­stead.

John Wil­liams, of Lon­don’s Miche­lin-starred Ritz Ho­tel, ex­tols the pow­er­ful flavours of the Christ­mas tree in the first ever Ritz cook­book. Mr Wil­liams, who has cooked for the Queen and the Prince of Wales, writes: ‘Spruces or Dou­glas fir seem like an odd in­gre­di­ent. Af­ter all, we think of Dou­glas fir as the Christ­mas tree dec­o­rated with baubles and lights. How­ever, the needles are fra­grant and spicy.’ The fir needles, he ad­vises, give a cit­rusy zest to oils, vine­gars, dress­ings, sauces, creams and mousses.

And one of the chef’s favourite recipes for pine needles forms part of The Ritz’s au­tumn menu – Dou­glas fir and lemon ver­bena cream. Mr Wil­liams adds: ‘With lemon ver­bena, the pine pro­duces an in­tensely aro­matic cream.’

Robin Har­ford, a for­ager and botan­i­cal re­searcher, said: ‘It’s great that a top chef is us­ing Christ­mas trees be­cause wild edi­ble plants are part of our cul­ture as a na­tion and it will en­cour­age peo­ple to use them.

‘Pine needles make an ex­tra­or­di­nary, vi­brant green oil that is per­fect with fish or driz­zled over roast veg­eta­bles.’

And TV ad­ven­turer Bear Grylls added: ‘I like a bit of pine nee­dle tea. It con­tains mas­sive amounts of vi­ta­mins A and C.’

The Ritz Lon­don: The Cook­book, is pub­lished by Mitchell Bea­z­ley priced £30.

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