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Douglas Fir Sorbet and Popsicles

Our Marketing Assistant and Metadata Coordinator, Alli Rose has been receiving weekly emails from the teachers of her children, 9 and 6, while they have been out of school due to COVID-19. Alli noticed one of the activities was from our book The Big Book of Nature Activities by Drew Monkman and Jacob Rodenburg, and she knew that her family needed to try this activity out.

The activity, Douglas Fir or Spruce Sorbet, invites children make some summer treats from the trees around them. Find out how it went, and how you can create your own, below.

Excerpt from the book The Big Book of Nature Activities

Douglas Fir or Spruce Sorbet

Try the following edible wild treat, which uses the bright lime-green tips of new growth on Douglas fir or spruce trees.

  • Combine 3 c. (700 ml) of water and 1 c. (237 ml) of organic cane sugar in a saucepan. Heat to a boil.
  • Add 4 c. (1 L) of fresh or frozen tips and, if you wish, 3 c. (700 ml) of redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregona) leaves. Completely submerge in water.
  • Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes.
  • Pour the liquid through a strainer and then into ice cube trays.
  • When fully frozen, mix the cubes in a blender and serve as a sorbet.
  • Garnish with a few extra tips.

The kids lost in a grove of Fir Trees. There are so many to pick!

My daughter and her tip bucket

Day 1: We had no trouble finding Douglas Fir tips that we ended up collecting 3 times the needed amount in about 5 minutes!

Measuring out our Spruce Tips.

After measuring the Douglas Fir tips, we followed the instructions making a triple batch.

The Douglas Fir Ice Cubes are ready. Now we need to blend them.

We used all of our ice cube trays and needed to wait a day until the Douglas Fir ice cubes were frozen.

Three bowls of Dougls Fir Sorbet are ready to taste.

Day 2: The kids and I were very excited to try our "Tree Ice Cream" as they called it. I kept trying to tell them that Ice Cream and Sorbet are two different things.  

My son, is not a big fan of the "Tree Ice Cream".  

My son refused more than a spoonful, but my daughter and I each ate a little more. However it was pretty watery and had a weird texture. There was a sugary tree taste that was unique and kind of interesting.

We had SO much of this mixture that I decided to see if it was better as a popsicle instead of sorbet.

So I left all of the ice cube trays on the counter, then poured them into popsicle molds.  

Douglas Fir Popsicles

Day 3: We now have some popscicles ready to taste. The popsicles look fantastic, and I'm thinking they will be much more enjoyable than the sorbet.

Ready for the final taste test.

The Final Result
My son didn't find the "Tree Popsicles" any more palatable than the "Tree Sorbet". My daughter ate about 3/4 of her popsicle before the sweet tree taste overpowered her. I fared about the same as my daughter.

While the popsicle was too big to be able to eat fully, I like the popsicle way more than the sorbet. If the popsicle was smaller I could enjoy a "Tree Treat" on hot days. It was quite refreshing.

Overall, it was a fun experiment to do with the kids, even if we didn't all love the taste.

About the Authors

Author Drew Monkman

Author Jacob Rodenburg

Drew Monkman and Jacob Rodenburg are the authors of The Big Book of Nature Activities: A Year-Round Guide to Outdoor Learning.

Jacob Rodenburg is the Executive Director of Camp Kawartha, an award winning summer camp and outdoor education centre which uses music, drama, hands-on exploration, games and activities to inspire awe and wonder for the local environment. He lives in Peterborough, Ontario.

Drew Monkman is a retired elementary school teacher, his interest in integrating nature activities and environmental education into all areas of the curriculum led him to oversee the development of an outdoor classroom which went on to become a model for many similar projects throughout Ontario. He lives in Peterborough, Ontario.

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