Saturday, May 5, 2012

Have you ever eaten a Pine Tree?

     This was an infamous quote from the godfather of foraging, Euell Gibbons.  The inner bark is edible, but that is for another article.  I’m here to talk about pine needles.  Pine trees are everywhere here in Alabama.  There are different types of pine that grow here.  Different varieties smell and taste different.  My favorite is the Virginia Pine.  It has short twisted needles in bunches of three.  Its fragrance is stronger than the other varieties around.  Besides the pine smell I get a grapefruit/citrus smell.  Pine needles have five times more Vitamin C than in one cup of orange juice.  Pine Needle Tea is also used by Native Americans to treat coughs and colds.  It helps expel phlegm from your body.  The easiest way to use pine needles is to make tea.  You can use any pine needles from a tree.  Make sure they are green and not brown, clip the brown ends off and put them into a tea or coffee cup.  Pour boiling water over the needles, cover and steep for 10 minutes.  You can drink it straight up or sweetened.  It has a nice clean flavor.  Not like pinesol at all. You can also infuse the pine needles into other things.  Really, the sky is the limit for creativity!

A word of caution.  You should not eat pine needles or drink the tea if you are pregnant.  Eating pine needles has been known to cause abortions in cows.