White Pine “Balsamic” Vinegar

Oh yes I did!

Thanks to a tip from Wise Woman herbalist Susun Weed, I tinctured Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) needles in apple cider vinegar to make a faux balsamic vinegar. This is as simple as filling a jar with pine needles, covering with apple cider vinegar, capping, and letting tincture for a month. Visits to check progress are optional, but a few coos in the general direction of one’s latest herbal concoction never hurt.

The results? Well, I wouldn’t call it faux balsamic. I did a simple taste test with balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and pine vinegar, and they all tasted distinct. The pine mellowed out the apple cider vinegar and I didn’t taste the pine until the end – kind of a refreshing high note. I liken it to using lavender in foods – I associate lavender with scent more than taste, but when added to food (lavender lemonade, herbs de provence, lavender poundcake) it adds this floral touch of lavender that appears and lingers lightly at the end of tasting. Pine is the same way…only pine, not floral.

I made a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and salt and pepper. I usually use 1-2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. In my opinion garlic is the star of vinaigrette, so I don’t skimp there.

I served it on my current favorite salad – lettuce/spinach, pear, fig, feta, and walnuts. Oh lordy. This was good!

I finally “get” herbal vinegars. In the past they didn’t seem very exciting to me. But as an herbal infusion, they deliver both the taste and the medicinal/nourishing properties of the herb. So along with my salad, I got a dose of vitamin C from the pine vinegar. When you think of food as true nourishment, not just something to fill your stomach with carbohydrates, protein, and fats, seeking vitamins and minerals from herbal sources makes a whole lot of sense. It expands the possible sources of vital nutrients way beyond the typical plant foods we consume. The fact that they taste good? A lovely side benefit. The fact that I can get these sources of nourishment from trees and plants already growing in my backyard? Resilience.

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