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Edible Yule tree: Please eat the ornaments

By on November 24, 2020 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments
A couple of hours of prep and then another couple of hours of assembly can create an edible Christmas tree.

By Carolyn Black

Holidays bring visions of sugar in all forms, but I was bound and determined to figure out a way to cut the calories and still have fun. 

A booklet we got at the county fair gave me ideas — we could create a shape like a Christmas tree, and make the ornaments out of vegetables. 

The booklet had pictures of many fun things using tools I had, and vegetables that were easy to find. Some needed to be cut up and done the night before the party, like radishes, carrot curls and green onions.

I found a stash of rigid Styrofoam insulation in my husband’s shop, and with his permission, and using two nails plus a length of string, I marked circles, starting with one as big as I could get. 

Eventually all were cut using a hacksaw blade, and stacking them, I had a tiered cone a little taller than three feet. Securing the layers was done with a large tube sock of cheesecloth.

The first time, large lettuce leaves covered the Styrofoam. A long strand of Christmas tree lights wrapped around the tree helped hold the leaves on, and the toothpicks holding the lettuce leaves and lights on gave me the spots to hang cut vegetables.

Then the fun began.

Sliced carrots, trimmed broccoli, cauliflower, pea pods, asparagus, olives, baby corn, sliced peppers of four colors, even long skinny slices made with a vegetable peeler from daikon radishes, they all become ornaments. 

A ring of tangerines around the base finishes it off. 

For the kids, pepperoni cut with cookie cutters into small gingerbread men and decorated with mustard add to the charm.

Cutting the corner off from a packet of mustard is the perfect way to decorate the little gingerbread men. 

Gathering three or four of the green onions (roots left intact) tied together with an extra green top can become a choir. One carefully cuts the “head” and decorates with tiny slices of red pepper for the lips and cloves can be used for eyes.

Over the years (30 at least), I have learned what to use, and what not to use. The lettuce withers too quickly, and cherry tomatoes are neither that popular nor hold that well.

I have browsed the aisles of grocery stores looking for canned veggies to use, and found the cutest tiny pickled beets, more pickled veggies, and some really fun ways to use others.

Quarter-inch slices of turnips then cut out with cookie cutters in fun shapes and edges painted with food coloring have really brightened it. 

For years while working, I would create the tree for the office, but it was never totally eaten, so I brought it home.

My family would have a huge salad for dinner, and finish most of it that evening. The lettuce all went into animal feed. Some ornaments were saved for the next morning’s quiche.

Now I use kale instead of lettuce, and once the tree is home, I can strip off the kale, rinse and freeze it to use in soup along with most of the left-over veggies. Using a box of zip lock baggies, the leftovers can go home with guests.

For smaller groups, a large round loaf of French bread or a cabbage head can be used for the base, and one can fold a slice of pepperoni into a flower with an olive center. Cheese cubes, the pickled veggies and sliced peppers can become a small centerpiece.

My daughter has used fruits of all kinds, and even used tortillas for covering the base so the visible item is totally edible. She lines up the fruit using toothpicks, making it look like a cake.

It takes about two hours of work the night before the party cutting up all the veggies and storing them in the refrigerator. 

The radishes, carrot curls and green onions will “curl” over night in a large container of water and ice. 

On the day of the party, it takes another couple of hours to put it all together. 

I have found, that putting the kale and lights on while at home allows me to transport it with less to do at the party. 

Everyone loves to be part in decorating the tree and sampling — sometimes I feel I must hide, out of sight so it doesn’t get eaten before everyone can enjoy it.

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