To trim a pine branch, the time is spring – once the pine tree’s “candles” are about 5 or 6 inches – grasp candle at base, and pull gently – breaking off the top third or half of the candle. They can be used to flavor a food, and provide some health benefit, in small quantity. Sweet pine tips might be best sweetened with cane sugar or honey though, keeping maple entirely maple in flavor.
A fresh white pine (tip (candle) nibble is good straight from the tree, without being coated with anything, and can be added to a salad, for example, for a bit of lemony zing, and some health benefits. It can also be part of a tea, or made into a syrup. Pine tips are not vegetables – it is probable, that like with some foods such as licorice, it is advisable to eat only very little at first, or if taking medications under the supervision of a doctor, consult your doctor). A syrup is a great way to preserve some of the goodness in pine. However, to have a pine candle nibble months after a branch has been “trimmed”, maybe sugar-coat them? Simmer them in a thick syrup, and then rolling them in sugar, and freeze them?
A 1:1 sugar:water thick syrup is a possibility for sugar-coating. Maple syrup is a spring treat, however, and so maple syrup was used rather than a sugar syrup from sugar cane. First they were simmered a minute** (pulling them out with a slotted spoon), and then rolling them in some crushed maple sugar candy, made from that same maple syrup. Although only a minute, the pine can be tasted in the candy, for better or worse, depending on your taste buds preferences the day you eat the candy. For me, last evening it tasted better than this morning – I’ve probably now eaten enough pine for a while.
PINE TIPS AS TEA: A very tiny bit of the fresh needles is fantastic with a little (1/2 t to 1 teaspoon) ground chaga mushroom (Inonotuus obliquus) and honey for a tea – although, that said, it should also be said that affinity for a tea is personal. Not every day, every tea is agreeable to every person. Chaga tea did not somehow settle well with me the first time I tried it – and so I did not appreciate it. This second time, however, a couple days ago (and over a year later), this time with the pine and honey, was tasty and much appreciated – it was a pleasant cup of tea.
Pinus Strobus, Birch (and Chaga), Sugar Maple, and their Community: There is an herbal medicine series called “Remedy”, which had a couple good discussions about chaga as a mycelial mass, which can modulate the immune system – and which lives on live and dead birch trees – signaling the death or imminent death of a birch, which is a pioneer species (“Remedy” #7 possibly #6, and #8 – Daniel Vitalis and David Wolfe and Sayer Ji – there were other interesting speakers – but not sure they discussed chaga and birch. Lise Alschuler discussed disruptions between tight junctions though – about the community that is our cells that chaga affects). The presenters explained that Chaga signals the death of a pioneer species; these pioneers, birches, are then outlived by other trees in their communities (including pinus strobus, long-lived in the northeast of the American continent among its community, although not as long-lived when planted elsewhere – at least in England Grieves wrote). The birch it was explained passes to the Chaga betulinic acid (or rather Chaga “concentrates” this). Once we eat Chaga, then in our body with a cancer cell, as with a birch tree, once again, chaga reminds what they are with – this time stem cells – that it is their time to go, to be replaced by new cells. An incredible environmental parallel. (Chaga does contain Selenium, which was noted by Dr. Li Xin Zhang as being potentially extremely important to prevent cancer, as a particular region high in Selenium in China has almost no cancer). Extending the parallel to Pine, I suppose one might ask the question if the Chaga mycelium communicates in any way with the pine trees in their community, and if so, if they are also able to do this together in a tea, once in the body.:).
There was in the video also discussion about disruption of cell environments (particularly disjunctions between “tight junctions” – and disruptions of chi, all cancer-causing) – which, given it said every day millions of cancer cells are in the body, but the immune system cleans them up – as I understood “Remedy”, perhaps indicates that these environmental disjunctions, like woodland vernal pools, make it more difficult for immune cells to do their rounds – but, like vernal pools, do the disjunctions provide something swampy but essential, for brief periods in a year or a life?
PRECAUTIONS: Probably eat only in very small quantities – a third or half of a candle can and likely should be further broken into many smaller segments (a 2 inch piece (about 5 cm) , break further into maybe 6 pieces). Perhaps eat only a couple of these nibs, over a couple days, a few times in spring, is enough. Maybe having a needle tea a few times in other seasons of the year.
The lemony pine flavor contains terpenes (alpha-pinene, like in sage, citrus peel, and in the turpentine solvent and oil which is distilled from pine resin). “Terpenes of different sizes and composition are found throughout all classes of organisms”. Terpenes are detailed in Chapter 6 in the book “Medical Herbalism, the Science and Practice of Medical Herbalism” by David Hoffman – he writes “Pinene is an irritant that can cause skin eruption, delirium, ataxia, and kidney damage. It is used in the manufacture of camphor, insecticides, perfume bases, and synthetic pine oil”(64). White pine’s latin name is Pinus strobus, although “A Modern Herbal” from 1931 by Grieves lists it as “Pinus alba”, and suggests that it can have a beneficial effect on the bladder and kidneys, among other uses such as for coughs. Differences in dosage and frequency of use perhaps are the reason for the opposing accounts – I am guessing therefore that pinus strobus is of interest in minute to small quantities – used infrequently (with consideration to proper processing, noting that a syrup, for example, would have an even higher boing point than does water. The quantity in the last image of the posted collage, therefore, might be a serving for 5, or even many more. And perhaps a mushroom like chaga sprinkled with it, might also be of benefit?
Eating pine while pregnant might be advised against – and so, do not eat pine if pregnant (unless you have literature, and doctors, and other professionals, all saying otherwise).
**Simmering these fresh wonderful bits of pine in water or syrup if intending to keep them whole and lemony might not be the best cooking method. The website eattheplanet.org suggests “you don’t boil the needle tea…the vitamin C is sensitive to heat and may break down into other components” eattheplanet.org/eastern-white-pine-an-effective-remedy-for-the-common-cold. Maybe simmering the pine tips even a minute in a syrup is too long? Perhaps alternately briefly steam the pine tips, followed by a soak in cold or warm syrup, and a roll in sugar? (For tea, just pour the almost boiling water over to steep).
Pine tips as Food: There are likely plenty of recipes for pine tips, like for spruce tips, however, I did not find many recipes to go by, beyond recipes for tea.
Susan Vinskofski has a lovely recipe for pine tree sugar cookies (see https://learningandyearning.com/pine-needle-cookies/). And here is one on using the fresh pine with salt – https://www.rootsimple.com/2016/07/salted-spruce-tips-and-pine-infused-garlic-salt/ by Mrs. Homegrown.
Recipes for honey flavored with pine might exist – for example, do pine nuts and (very very lightly flavored) pine-flavored honey find their way into some desserts (such as baklava)? In fried ice-cream? With a crepe? With a hot cereal?
Pine tips as Medicine (and Food): Euell Gibbons in “stalking the wild asparagus” gives a recipe for cough syrup that includes them (and red clover, mullein leaves, and the inner bark of wild cherry) , simmering in water, adding honey, then boiling (Gibbons, 1968 7th edition, page 280).
Other herbalists such as Maria Groves write that the fresh spring pine tips can also be directly boiled in honey (see wintergreen botanicals.com/virtualherbwalk/winter/). My guess is that Euell decided that to boil the herbs in water, and then add honey to the water, would keep honey from sticking to herbs likely not all reused in another recipe. In a cough syrup of only honey and pine, the pine tips though might not have to be wasted – they might still hold their shape, and can perhaps be incorporated into another recipe – such as put into a stew, or a dessert.
Can dogs have pinus strobes tips in minute quantities as an herb to add to their food? Perhaps.
The Pinene resin might be in a stick they might chew on – barks and resins included perhaps – but then again, which, and when? (They know when a stick smells and tastes worth ingesting). Food-grade wood pulp (cellulose) in dog foods (and human foods) might not include pine resins. Dogs do naturally likely get minute amounts of alpha-Pinene in the “tea” which is a pine-needle laden pond (“the drink”) or vernal pool for example. Dogs do like a white button mushroom from the grocery store, as well as some others – for amounts, check some references on this.
Do not give to pregnant dogs. Also do not give to dogs on medications without consulting a veterinarian who has knowledge in herbal medications (and maybe consult them anyway).
Note of art interest: The turpentine resin from “Abies alba”, or the silver-fir has great clarity in formulations as a binder.