My father is a man who loves foraging and learning what is and is not edible. He told me about this, and it’s been a big hit with the grandchildren. The idea comes from turning your Christmas tree into pine syrup. While some sites or magazine article say this sweet syrup can be made from the pine needles of old Christmas trees, my father informed me that the soft spring pine needle buds provide the best flavor. Per his instruction Fir trees like Spruce and Douglas needles are recommended though not required. If you are using a Christmas tree ensure you have not utilized and preservation chemicals in the tree stand water.
Telling the difference among conifers can be tricky. The easiest way is to look for the number of needles that come out of the same spot on a twig. If the twig has needles in groups of two, three, or five it can safely be called a pine. If the needles are carried singly on the twig it’s likely you have a Spruce or Fir. Pull a needle off and roll it between your fingers; if it feels flat and doesn’t easily roll then it’s a Fir. If the needle has four sides and rolls easily between your fingers then it is a Spruce. I have not tried syrup made from Spruce or Pine, so I don’t know how well the flavor extracts.
The recipe can be increased following this formula and pattern. Rinse one cup of needs or needle buds and then finely chop them, I recommend a food processor of some kind. Bring and half come and a few tablespoons of water, 2 tablespoons of corn syrup, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a saucepan whisking them. After it has been whisked and brought to a boil let it sit boiling for one minute without stirring. After a minute remove from the heat, add the needles, and allow it too steep for 2 to 3 hours. After it has steeped strain the syrup and refrigerate. My father gave it a recommended lifespan of a month.
Give it a shot after Christmas, or this spring when the pines and firs are budding.