I first used fir needles in January 2016, after not wanting to lose the delicious scent of our Christmas tree (I also cut the branches to lay on top of pots in the garden, through winter - they are a good mulch).
I first wrote about how to use fir sugar on Gardenista, back in early December. But now that Northern sidewalks are becoming clogged with cast off trees, here is what to do with those fragrant needles before all the dogs in the neighborhood pee on them!
Our tree was from an organic grower (Windswept Farm). Warm soapy water may help in washing off any sprays that are on your tree, but only a lab (scientific, not dog) could you tell you that for sure.
After rinsing and drying the plucked needles, combine a quarter cup of needles with one cup of sugar and process in a spice grinder until very smooth and bright green. (Wash the grinder with hot water immediately after use or its blades will remain gummed up with resin.)
After grinding, transfer the highly aromatic fir sugar concentrate to a large bowl and add another cup of sugar to dilute it, mixing it well with your hands, before bottling and storing. You can make fir salt in exactly the same way. The color will fade with time but the scent will remain strong.
I often dilute this blend with either more sugar or salt when using it for gravlax, cocktails or baking, as it is very strong - but this potent batch is much easier to store. When baking you will notice that your cookies will be less fragile that usual - the resin in the needles makes for more substantial mouthfuls.
Head to Gardenista for the gravlax recipe. It is divine. If I say so myself.,