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This holiday, you might be getting ready to sit down to a traditional holiday meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and things generally cooked in butter. Basically Thanksgiving 2.0. Or, you know, maybe you got caught in a blizzard on your own and now you’re stuck celebrating Christmas in the woods, fighting against the elements until someone comes and finds you. Hey, weirder things have happened. So what will you be eating this Christmas Eve? Basically tree bark and tea, so long as you happen to have been stranded with a woodcutting knife and a pot to cook in. Oh, and assuming you know how to make a fire from scratch like MacGyver. In short, your meal won’t taste like grandma used to make, but it will keep you alive. Just stay away from the wolves.
Most spruce trees you’ve come into close contact with have probably been propped up in your living room and covered with ornaments, but you’re about to get way more involved with this coniferous evergreen. You can nosh on the inner bark for the main course, and make tea with the needles. When you make it back out of the woods, you can take your newfound skill set and make spruce tip vinegar and conifer sugar for, you know, bizarre tasting food that will remind you of your harrowing experience.
If the forest had a menu of dishes—all of them trees, of course—and you had to pick which one to eat first, poplars would probably come dead last. Though the bark is edible, it’s extremely bitter. Like spruce trees would be the equivalent of milk chocolate and poplars like that 99% cocoa stuff that’s supposedly better for you. If you can, find another winter snack. Then again, you’re stuck in the woods on Christmas, so beggars can’t be choosers.
More often associated with ornamental logs in a homegoods store, birch trees in the wild provide an edible inner bark, as well as twigs that you can make tea with. We just won’t make any promises it tastes like English Breakfast.
At the base of evergreen trees, you’ll find little offshoots that you can make tea with. Known as swamp tea, this reportedly tastes good (though no one at ISAORA can attest to the validity of this statement) and is often used to beat back a cold. Which is good news because being stuck in the woods is pretty brutal on the immune system.