Sunday, 10 January 2010

Week 2 - Pine

I was really struggling to find anything edible this week as we've had a thick covering of snow which has left all the little green leaves completely hidden. I was ready to give up and forage something from my freezer, but a short walk this morning revealed a new pleasure. I've never tried it before, but I'm currently drinking a nice hot cup of pine needle tea! It's quite a revelation actually; I don't usually enjoy anything but "normalitea".

When I got home I thought I'd better double-check my reference books. I think I used Scots Pine or something very similar. It had those proper pine cones on it (the ones you hang outside to measure the humidity in the air). Apparently the only poisonous species of conifer is Yew (that's the one with red berries and flat, short needles), which I know well, so I wasn't too scared to give it a go.

The method I used was to chop and bruise the needles, and then steep them in just-boiled water for about 10 minutes. The resulting brew looks slightly oily (the sap is quite sticky), and smells quite aromatic. The taste is naturally quite sweet, you don't need to add sugar or honey (in my opinion). I didn't make it very strong, and it's perhaps not the best time of year (new spring growth required?), but it's very nice anyway and I would definitely recommend it. Pine needles contain high levels of vitamin C - ideal for fighting those winter colds and flu!

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