Douglas Fir is one of the most ubiquitous trees in our region here in the Pacific Northwest. They're everywhere, tall and stately, decorating our landscape with sheltering, aromatic, silhouettes. Traditionally, the Doug Fir tree was used in communities of Cascadia for many things including building structures & canoes, using the pitch as skin medicine, and even drinking tonics made from the leaves and bark for colds, coughs, and kidney/bladder ailments. But the way I came to learn about Doug Fir was via its bright green spring tips. I was taught that these tips were like nature's gatorade, and if you're ever lost in the woods, you can chew on these tips for for hydration and energy. They quench thirst and hunger, and have a pleasant lemony-piney sweet flavor. You can make Sun Tea with the tips to make a truly delicious, hydrating treat.
This year, I decided to play with Doug Fir more than I have in the past, and see what kind of treats I could come up with! I made Doug Fir infused vodka to use in cocktails, a Doug Fir simple syrup that I turned into sorbet, and am drying lots of tips to save for tea!
Harvesting Doug Fir Tips: while there is a bounty of tips to be found in this region, always make sure you don't take too many from one tree, because these tips are the tree's spring growth, so when we forage the tips, we're pruning the tree! So take your time gathering from a bunch of different trees so as no to leave one too bare.
Anywhere from 1 cup to 3 handfuls of tips work well for each 750 ml. of water or vodka. Some people like to blend up the tips so that there's more surface area, but I have found them just fine without. If you're making Sun Tea, add the tips and water to a clean jar and let it do its thing in the sun for a couple of days. If you're infusing vodka, do the same thing, but keep it in a darker cooler place for a few days (I usually do somewhere between 2-4 days). After the infusion time, simply strain out the solid plant material and enjoy it on its own or mixed in drinks.
Basic Lemonade (to use in Doug Fir Cocktails!):
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 cups of water to dilute
Method: on the stove top let the sugar and water come to a boil, once the sugar has dissolved, allow this syrup to cool completely. Once cooled, mix the lemon juice, 3/4 cup-1 cup syrup, and 3 cups of water. Stir/shake well. Serve over ice with a slice of lemon, or use the lemonade to make a Doug Fir Cocktail! Or honestly, if you want to take a shortcut, you can totally replace the 3 cups of water with pre-made Doug Fir Sun Tea or Doug Fir Vodka, and not even make the cocktail that I list below. I'm sure Doug Fir Basic Lemonade on its own is great, too!
Doug Fir Cocktail/Mocktail
- 1.5 oz. Doug Fir infused Vodka (or Doug Fir Sun Tea)
- 3 oz. of the basic lemonade as outlined above
- 1 dropper of Roots & Crowns Forest Bitters
- pretty ice cubes and/or Doug Fir tips for garnish
Make this in your shaker with any old ice, pour over pretty ice cubes in your favorite glass, and garnish with either a slice of lemon or a Doug Fir tip! ENJOY! This is seriously such a refreshing treat for warm afternoons.
Doug Fir Sorbet
- 3 cups fresh Doug Fir tips
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup sugar or honey
- 3 tsp. fresh lime juice
- garnishes like chocolate, flowers, or more tips
Bring the tips, water, & sweetener to a light boil. Turn off the flame, cover, and let steep for about half an hour. Remove solids, add the lime juice, mix well, and pour into your ice cream maker! Sorbets take a little longer to solidify in the machine than ice creams do, but my goodness what a simple process. I'm glad I splurged on an ice cream maker in time for sorbet/ice cream season! I got this one. (Yes, in millennial pink! :)) You can use the sorbet kinda soft right out of the machine or let it harden in the freezer. This recipe makes a good quart+ so you can keep some for later on! I also loved adding a scoop of Doug Fir Sorbet to my champagne. It looks beautiful and tastes divine!
I hope you enjoyed this post and share it will anyone who would have fun with it, too! Tag @rootsandcrownspdx on any photos you post of your creations that were inspired by this!
Special thanks to herbalist Elise Krohn for first turning me onto these conifer tips, and for inspiring some of these recipes!