Though I know I first heard about eating for tips from James Wong, the BBC botany darling, in my favorite gardening book “Grow for Flavour” I frankly did not remember. Sorry James.
My dear friend Kirsten of @theeightacrefarm and I went picking at her lovely farm for a bit of a mom date. (10 minutes away from children= mom date). She showed me the fir tips that she had picked and dried for winter vitamin C tea. I can’t remember whose idea it was for sure but to be fair it was probably her! “I wonder if we could ferment these?” Yes. Yeah Momma, more like. So we picked and I came home and stuffed them in jars with salt and water. You follow the same proportions for really any herb you want to preserve this way and they seemed pretty “herby” to me.
The taste was something of a revelation. Raw they are nice but sharp with a bit of aftertaste of pine cleaner. Not that I’ve ever consumed pine cleaner but things often taste as they smell. Fermented they lose all that astringent cleaner taste and what you are left with is like Christmas in your mouth. reminiscent of a light herbal balsamic with hints of lemon, rosemary and mint. It’s hard to describe but the flavor is downright addictive. I ate half a jar on a wedge of Trader Joe’s Wild Mushroom Brie and some keto crackers I had made from Dr Berg’s Amazing Keto Bread recipe, edited. Enough talk. Here’s how it’s done.
You’ll want to get the smallest softest ones possible and pick them above the encasing bud or they’ll fall apart in your hands. We had little helpers so had a few tough bunches in the batch.
- 4-8 cups freshly picked Douglas or Noble Fir tips. The smaller and softer the better.
- 1-2 cup sizes mason jars, sanitized (you can do larger but smaller sizes are handy) I used 3 wide mouth Pint masons.
- 1 tsp kosher, sea or pink salt per cup of fir tips
- Fermenting weight, small jar (sanitized) or some people use a cabbage leaf.
- Avocado or olive oil for the top to seal out bacteria.
- Non-corrosive lids. I have taken to using the ball leak proof lids in grey.
- Sanitize jars in the oven at 180°F for 2-3 minutes.
- With washed hands, rinse the fir tips and strain them in a colander.
- Pack the greens into the jars and pay attention to how many cups are in each jar.
- Add 1 tsp salt per cups. For my jars I added 2 tsp pink salt per jar.
- Cover with a bit of olive oil and then place your fermenting weight on the top, leaving 1″ headroom and seal the jar.
- Leave for 7 days or longer to produce some amazingly bright northwest flavor!