Mine is the type of kitchen where it’s not uncommon anymore to hear a question like, “Why do you have Christmas tree in your fridge?” I was asked this question yesterday to which I replied, with giddy enthusiasm, “it’s my Doug fir!” They were the young pieces of Douglas fir branches I snipped off the tree while foraging two weeks ago. I had heard about making simple syrup out of the fragrant branches and was itching to try. Now I see, I’m going to have to go back for more. This simple syrup’s made me a Doug fir fiend.
Foraging 101: Douglas Fir
How do you know it’s a Douglas Fir?
The Douglas fir is a very common native. They have flat, single needles, which means each needle is directly attached to the stem rather than growing in clumps. They are conifers â€“ their seeds are found in cones.
For me, identifying the Doug fir is all about the cone. Behold the mouse butt! Douglas fir cones have the distinctive 3-pronged bracts that extend out underneath each scale. They look like the back legs and tail of a mouse. Neat!
What should you harvest?
You want to harvest new growth â€“ the tender, chartreuse needles on the tips of the branches. Those will be the most flavorful.
Because this simple syrup is Amazing! (and yes, I meant to write amazing with a capital A – it’s that good) I made this as a cocktail and have since been enjoying a Doug fir soda every night since I made the syrup. I am hooked and clearly need to go foraging again.
Douglas Fir Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
a handful of young Doug fir cuttings (about the amount shown in the picture above)
Put the sugar and the water in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the Doug fir and simmer for 3 – 5 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let the flavors meld and the syrup cool for about 20 – 30 minutes.
The biggest lesson I learned with this syrup is to be generous when adding it to my beverages. When I’ve used homemade flavored syrups in the past, I’ve always been really conservative when adding it to my drinks. But I see now, that a little more, goes a long way. The flavor cannot be beat.
Put some ice into a martini glass.
Over the ice, pour 2 tablespoons syrup and 1 shot of vodka. Top it off with plain sparkling water and stir to combine. Garnish with a small piece of Doug fir â€“ inverted, the needles will hook onto the side of the glass.
Douglas Fir Soda
Fill a frosty pint glass about half full with ice.
Add three tablespoons of Doug fir syrup and fill the rest of the glass with plain sparkling soda water. Stir to combine, sip, and feel refreshed!