Christmas tree whisk (Tvare)

Traditional Scandinavian tvare whisks date back to at least the 9th century. The old Norse word for them was þvara.

The word tvare, means ‘mixing’ though they would have been used for mashing, as well as stirring porridge and stew.

As these were custom made the size of the handle varied for its user, as well as its purpose.

The handle can be anything up to half a metre long for large pots of porridge.

1. The first step is to find a suitable tree, the top part of a 5 foot tree will probably make no more than two whisks, any lower down the handle and branches will be too thick to work with.

2. Cut the trunk to the desired length for your handle. Cut below the second large spread of branches. Remove the top branches and any others along the stem.

3. Cut the remaining branches to around 5/6cm long.

4. Remove as much bark as possible from the handle and branches. Don’t worry too much as this will be easier after the next step.

5. Bring a large pan of water to a boil and boil the wood for 10-15 minutes. This will soften the remaining bark, making it easier to remove.

6. The final step is to sand everything smooth and treat with a food safe oil. Traditionally this would be Linseed.

I have been advised to leave the whisk to dry for a considerable time before using, as it does tend to impart a certain floor cleaner flavour to your food.

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