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When most people think about pine in December, Christmas trees come to mind. But for chef Taylor Knapp, the thought turns his mind to his next menu item. Eastern white pine — which is plentiful on Long Island this season — is a go-to winter ingredient at the chef’s popular PawPaw Pop-Up.
Pine’s long needles have a citrus nuance that suits it to both sweet and savory dishes. Knapp often makes white pine sugar, blending the pine with sugar until it is bright green and granulated. He uses it in everything from ice cream to meringue.
“Sometimes we’ll do an after-dinner treat on the menu called “pine-apple,” he said. “It is always a play on pine and apple; for example, white pine meringue with a little bit of sour apple sorbet in the middle. It is a super refreshing bite at the end of the meal.”
For the main course, Knapp creates a paste of pine needles and oil to encrust a roast of lamb.
“Those two flavors are great together,” he said.
Knapp typically forages for his pine, but you can pick up more conventional evergreen Christmas trees at a number of North Fork farm stands from mid-November until (for the daring) Christmas Eve day. Get them locally at Shamrock Christmas Tree Farm in Mattituck, Dart’s Christmas Tree Farm in Southold, Verderber’s Landscape Nursery & Garden Center in Aquebogue and Zuhoski Farms in Cutchogue.
• The first written record of a decorated Christmas tree was in Latvia in 1510.
• The first retail Christmas tree lot in the United States was started in 1851 in New York.
• Besides evergreens, other types of trees such as cherry and hawthorns were used as Christmas trees in the past.
• The use of evergreen trees to celebrate the winter season occurred before the birth of Christ.
• There are approximately 350 million Christmas trees growing on U.S. farms.
• Rich in vitamin C, which boosts immune function
• High in antioxidant compounds
• Can help to ease knee pain and menstrual cramps
• Aroma can reduce stress
— According to Health Magazine
Where to recycle your Christmas tree:
When the holiday is over, don’t lug your Christmas tree to the curb. Plenty of North Fork farms are happy to take it off your hands to feed their livestock. Just be sure the tree is free of all tinsel and ornaments before dropping it off. Here’s where to go:
260 Main Road, Riverhead
Catapano Dairy Farm
33705 Route 48, Peconic
Shared Table Farmhouse*
425 Jacobs Lane, Southold
*In addition to removing all ornaments and tinsel, Shared Table Farmhouse asks that donated trees are not sprayed with pesticides or preservatives.