Looking to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint? Surprise—Your Christmas Tree Is Edible

It's more than a good garnish.
It's more than a good garnish. / golero/iStock via Getty Images
This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

There are plenty of ways to make sure your Christmas tree doesn’t end up in a landfill. You can repurpose parts of it as an arts-and-crafts project or in your garden. You can recycle your tree, giving it a chance to be reincarnated as mulch, structural support for sand dunes, or an energy source. You can even donate it to a zoo, where elephants and other animals can enjoy it as a snack. Or, you might be able to eat it yourself.

The operative word there is might—not all Christmas trees are edible. As NPR reports, all cypress, yew, and cedar trees are poisonous. And even if your tree is of an edible variety, it may have been treated with pesticides or some other chemical that makes it toxic to ingest.

In short, you shouldn’t try to whip up a Christmas tree dish unless you’re positive that yours is a chemical-free spruce, pine, or fir. Once you’ve confirmed that, you can safely begin looking for recipes. A good place to start is How to Eat Your Christmas Tree, a cookbook created by UK-based baker Julia Georgallis and published in October 2020.

Before the project became a book, it was an annual supper club where Georgallis and some two dozen collaborators would get together and test recipes that included Christmas trees. The endeavor was a way to imbue the holidays with a focus on sustainability, and the book reflects that message; it’s interspersed with eco-friendly tips and tricks for the season.

And then, of course, there are the recipes. As Georgallis told Smithsonian, spruce has an “orangey” and “vanilla” taste that works well in ice cream. Fir, on the other hand, is “really zesty and really grassy,” which lends itself to dishes that “need a sharper taste,” like pickles or fish. Pine, a less pungent plant, has more floral notes—which, as Inverse points out, makes for a great tea.

You can check out three of Georgallis’s recipes—fish, pickles, and ice cream—courtesy of Smithsonian, and find the rest in How to Eat Your Christmas Tree ($16 from Amazon).

[h/t Smithsonian]