The Douglas fir is the state tree of Oregon but it has Scottish (Perthshire) roots taking its name from David Douglas, a botanist from Scone. Douglas bought a seed home to the UK and it is planted in the grounds of Scone Palace http://www.scone-palace.co.uk/visitor-information/the-gardens-and-grounds.html , which thereby boasts the oldest UK Douglas fir. I love the idea of a tree coming from America to Scotland, bucking the historical trend.Douglas firs are tall, older trees can be over 300 feet in height but its cone is cute, and there is folklore attached to it. A mouse is reported to have sheltered from a fire or a fox (in some versions) in the Douglas fir and If you go in to the woods today ...
You can see the hind legs and the tail of the mouse sticking out from the Douglas fir cone, where he is still hiding from the fox (fire). '
Forage the young tips, picking abstemiously from each tree; a little here and a little there. If you want to cook with fresh Douglas fir, wrap the neddles in cloth because they dry out easily. The leaves can be frozen, dried or used fresh. I make pine needle sugars. tisanes, vinegar, oil, syrup, cordial and tie them in a bunch of bouquet garni to give flavour to stews soups or even rice. Combined with coconut in sugar it makes an interesting combination - a hint of the Tropics.
Grind Douglas fir needles as finely as possible in a pestle and mortar (it's tricky to do this in a blender unless you have a large amount) and store the powder in an airtight jar. Its aromatic flavour adds interest to many dishes. I often add a pinch when a recipe calls for rosemary. This delicious chocolate pot recipe is taken from The Forager's Kitchen
Douglas Fir Chocolate Pots
This is a very rich pudding so don't be tempted to use large ramekins. I use tiny French chocolate pots.
Makes 6-8 depending on size
What to forage and find:
Sprig Douglas fir (6-8 cm) washed and dried
300ml single cream
200g Fair Trade dark chocolate
2 tsps Douglas Fir syrup (or Douglas fir sugar)
What to do:
1. Put the Douglas fir and cream into a pan and scald it over a low heat. Do not allow the cream to boil. Set aside for an hour to allow the flavour to infuse and then remove the Douglas fir.
2. Put the chocolate into a food processor and pulse to break it into small pieces. Take care the machine may need to be held in place.
3. Reheat the cream (do not allow it to boil). Slowly pour the hot cream into the food processor turning it on and off with care and ensuring that the chocolate doesn't overflow down the sides of the machine. If you don't blend the chocolate i.e. leave it in squares it may do this. Slowly does it.
4. Add the egg to the hot chocolate cream, blend and then add the Douglas fir syrup or sugar. Pour into pots and refrigerate until set
You can adapt this easy chocolate pot recipe by replacing the Douglas fir with another wild herb or flower sugar or wild syrup.
Serve with Douglas fir Biscuits. This recipe is in The Forager's Kitchen which is published by CICO Books at £16.99 and is available from all good bookshops or call 01256-302699 quoting GLR 7ZV to purchase a copy at the special price of £14.99 including free p&p. For further information, please go to www.cicobooks.co.uk