This will be the first out of many instructables from me.
I usually don't engulf myself that much into any cooking endeavours. However, I came across this little recipe in a book about having fun with your family in the forest. Since I have tried out just about everything with wood so far, I decided to try this one out. I suppose eating trees is the final step in being a complete treenerd.
For this project you will need:
A bunch of pine needles
Step 1: Pillage a Christmas Tree!
I live right next to a Scandinavian pine forest and the most occuring pine we have arround here is red spruce.
I went out with my daughter to pick some young branches. We collected a bucket of small branches.
I used a small fork to strip the branches for needles. This is the most tedious part of the process. It takes some time to pull them all off. It is an importaint part, though. Any branches or treesap will affect the flavour, making it a bit "woody" or "sauna-y" to the taste.
This instructable is meant to be one you can do all year long, hence using the needles. However, if you want a rich and full flavour, pick the bright green pine buds during spring and use those. They are more sweet and filling to the taste.
Step 2: Clean and Boil Your Needles.
The ratio of ingredients is very simple: equal doses of almost everything.
You want to boil the needles for about half an hour. Make sure to wash them off thoroughly before cooking. If you pick the needles standing on the ground, you tend to pick needles that have been exposed to wildlife, and whatever gunk they tend to spread around
I made this boil from two cups of needles. I added two cups of water as well, but added a little more water as i went on. Maybe a total of three cups of water for everything.
Step 3: Strain the "tea"
This can be a little tricky. Depending on your sieve, the needles can go through. Alternately, strain it through a clean piece of cloth. That ought to do the trick just fine.
Step 4: Add Sugar
Pour in two cups of sugar in the strained tea-brew. Have it boil for about 12-15 minutes. You want the texture to be a little more runny than normal maple syrup. It will solidify a little when it cools down, and then become a little more viscous. I only had brown sugar at my disposal when I made this instructable. Unless you want a really rich caramel flavour on top of your fresh needle flavour, I wouldn't recommend using this. Either use white sugar or fructose. I will eventually test them all out and make a little flavour guide at the end of this instructable.
Step 5: Pour Up and Enjoy!
I found a nice little jam-jar and poured it all up.
My daughter was very eager to try it out, so I obviously had to make pancakes the following morning. Great succes!
Strange fact: if the pancakes are a little dark (read burned, I'm no master chef), the cozy "sauna smell"- flavour in the pine needles, will be a little enhanced.
All in all: Even though I didn't use the right kind of sugar it was still a succes, at least if you ask my daughter. I will, however, test it again, using only fresh pine buds and a different kind of sugar. Stay tuned for more info.
The recipe works fine though. Good luck!
Step 6: Later Variations
Ok, so right about now (May-June)is the perfect time to go harvesting the sweet and fresh pine buds. You can recognize them by their bright, almost neon green color. They are soft to the touch as well and really easy to pick.
I picked a full bucket and chopped them up after rinsing at home. Then I followed my own recipe and made four different variations afterwards.
On the picture, you can see from the left:
The first one is the same syrup as before, made from regular pine needles and brown sugar.
The next one is made from pine buds and fructose. I love that amazing amber color.
The really dark one is made from fructose and pine buds as well, but with a spoonfull of pure licorice. YUM!!!! this was amazing! We love Black licorice in our family, and y black, I mean really black. That kind of black that makes your teeth look like they had a tan after you ate it.
The last one is made from pine buds and cane sugar. Here I added a good spoonfull of chopped fresh ginger. This also tasted fantastic.
Now I just need to figure out what to do with all of this syrup. We are trying to cut down on sugar at home.