Just a quicky today, I am bogged down with plans of all kinds, desperately trying to make one come to fruition!
The wild larder offers slim pickings in the winter months, thankfully there is a slight hint that spring is steadily making its way back to Britain: snow drops are in abundance, the first wild garlic shoots are appearing and even the daffodils are erupting from the earth…good stuff! I hate winter.
The world of blogging can be a fine source of inspiration, I have had pine needle tea on a few occasions and even used the sticky sap of the Scots pine for rudimentary chewing gum as an adventurous 8 year old (not recommended), but I had not though of making pine needle vinegar…
Pine Needles are very good for the immune system and are rich in flavanoids and minerals, it is believed that by filling a jar with pine needles and covering it with vinegar, after 6 weeks, you will have a something that is not a million miles away from Balsamic vinegar in flavour. Hmmmmm….
Two blogs I have come across, which are always a good read are The Cottage Smallholder and Eatweeds. Both have come up with similar methods of creating this Balsamic substitute…fresh out of blog ideas at the moment, with inspired thoughts being channeled in other directions, I thought I would have a go! I got my needles from Ashdown Forest, an area rich in Scots pine, and to be honest, I didn’t need a lot. The smell given off by the (rather uncomfortable) brushing of ones face with a small branch always makes me think of Christmas, funny that…the oak would make a rather lame, bare Christmas tree.
So, what next?
It really is quite simple: Strip the needles off a few small branches (preferably taken from a larger, fallen branch) give them a rinse under cold water and pack a jam jar or kilner jar with all the needles.
Bring some cider vinegar or white wine vinegar to the boil, add 2-3 tablespoons of soft brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat, allow the vinegar to cool slightly and pour over the pine needles. Easy. You may have to wait for 6-8 weeks to try it out, I tried red wine vinegar too for a bit of variety, I had a sniff this morning and both already have a slight yuletide aroma to them. Should sit nicely on the shelf with my tarragon infused vinegar I made a couple of months ago- its incredible with carrot shavings…
Since the pillbox/hobo experience, I have had my eye on caves for a true Stone age thrill, watch this space.