Don’t Waste That Christmas Tree: Turn It Into Spruce Beer

on 04/01/13 at 1:56 pm

Beer

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The holidays are finally wrapping up. So after you repack the twinkly lights, and the tinsel goes into the trash, what should you do with that once beautiful spruce standing in your living room? Why not drink it?

Well, not exactly as is. The needles, shoots, light-green tips and inner bark of the popular conifer have been used for centuries to brew forest-scented tea, soft drinks and beer. And it seems that fresh evergreen flavor may be making a comeback.

“Ancient Scandinavians and their Viking descendants brewed beer from young shoots of Norway spruce, drinking the beer for strength in battle, for fertility and to prevent scurvy on long sea voyages,” according to the second edition of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America.

Indeed, the British Navy practically required spruce beer as a scurvy treatment, particularly after 18th century experimental nutritionist James Lind published his observations of sailors’ recoveries. Spruce beer became a part of daily life for sailors, as Capt. James Cook’s 1784 Voyage to the Pacific Ocean describes:

“Two of our men were employed in brewing spruce beer; while others filled the water-casks, collected grass for the cattle and cut wood. … Besides fish, we had other refreshments in abundance. Scurvy-grass, celery and portable soup were boiled every day with the wheat and pease; and we had spruce beer for our drink. Such a regimen soon removed all seeds of the scurvy from our people, if any of them had contracted it. But indeed, on our arrival here, we only had two invalids in both ships.”

FULL STORY via NPR