Exploring Pine

Residing alongside a White Pine & Eastern Hemlock forest, I’m continuously inspired and amazed by the abundance that surrounds me. These giants offer so much throughout the year and withstand some of the harshest conditions. Here are a few of the many ways we explored these majestic trees. Here’s more information on identifying Pine (Pinus strobus) Always be sure your tree is free of pollutants and to properly identify your evergreen species, as some can be quite harmful.

Gathering and Drying

Gathering evergreen needles can be quite simple. Ideally, collect recently fallen branches or ethically cut a few small branches from various trees. We were clearing a small section of land, so we gathered from those trees. Evergreen needles can be gathered throughout the year! I tend to enjoy them more in the wintertime because of availability. The needles can be used fresh or dried. If you plan on drying them, continue on.

Once gathered, you can dry the needles out, either by placing them in a dehydrator or hanging them up in a dry space. Sometimes it’s helpful to place the small branches in a paper bag before you hang them up to dry. This way any fallen needles will be saved! The needles will easily fall off the branches when dry and can be used or stored as needed.

Making Evergreen Powder

To make this delightfully green powder, simply place the needles in a coffee grinder and pulse away. Once most of the needles have been broken down, use a sieve or fine mesh strainer to filter out the larger pieces. These large pieces can be placed back in the coffee grinder and pulsed again. The end result should be a fine powder. If for some reason the powder seems moist, it should continue drying. The easiest way is to spread the powder on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven at the lowest setting. Once the powder is dry, take it out! This will also make your house smell AMAZING.

Use the powder to your liking or store in a sealed container for later use. Here’s what we did with our powdered needles:

Pine Watercolor

Yes, you can make watercolor paint with evergreen needles! Using the evergreen powder (mentioned above) makes a very fragrant and pleasant color. It reminds me of the tree fresheners for the car!

Add equal parts water and evergreen powder and give a stir. We decided to not strain out the small bits of needle and enjoy the texture it brings to the paint. Of course, straining works as well.

Pine Branch Paint Brush (or Wand)

Pine branch paint brushes are so fun to make! Search around for small fallen branches and twigs while gathering bits of evergreen needles. During the winter months it’s so windy that we have no problem finding fallen branches and needles. Using some twine, wrap the needles onto the branches or twigs to your liking. We experimented using different needles and combining some. Once your paint brush is made, get busy painting! These also make fantastic woodland wands! When you’re done, add them to your compost or fire.

Pine Cone Incense

Powdered herbs make wonderful ingredients for cone incense. By combining 2 Tablespoons Powdered Pine, 2 teaspoons of Marshmallow Root Powder or Makko Powder, and slowly adding drops of water until it all holds together, you’ll have yourself the cutest cone incense! Mold the moist powders into a cone shape with your hands. By making the cones thin and rather pointy, they’ll burn better. These do take a few days to fully dry, so a bit of patience is needed.

Pine Pillows

Once the needles are dried out, try making an aromatic pine pillow. Hand stitch or sew a simple shape, stuff it full of pine needles, and seal it shut. Using a wide mouth funnel or rolling some paper make it a bit easier to fill the pillow with needles. We decided to create nature inspired paintings and drawings to the pillow before stuffing.

White Pine Needle Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/4-1/2 cup white pine needles
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups flour

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Powder the pine needles in a coffee grinder
  • In a large bowl combine softened butter, sugar, salt, zest, and powdered pine needles, beat with mixer until creamy
  • Slowly mix in the flour
  • Using your hands, continue to work the dough until smooth
  • Chill in the refrigerator for 10 minutes
  • Roll out the dough to a ¼ inch thickness
  • Bake on parchment paper for 8-10 minutes and eat!

Pine Tea Recipe

Place a handful of freshly picked and clean pine needles in 1 pint of warm water (boiling the needles will decrease the vitamin C content)

Cover

Steep for 15-30 minutes

Strain and enjoy!

Evergreen Body Butter

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup carrier oil (jojoba, almond, apricot kernel oil, etc.)
  • 1 cup fresh evergreen needles, chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup shea butter
  • 1/2 cup mango butter
  • Optional- essential oils such as fir, pine, or even clary sage

What to do

This decadent winter body butter recipe will leave your skin feeling soft and silky. Homemade body butter is also a 100% natural way to support skin health with natural fats and antioxidants.

  1. Place the carrier oil and evergreen needles into the top of a double boiler or into a metal bowl perched atop a small saucepan. Place a few inches of water into the bottom half of the double boiler.
  2. Heat the ingredients until they are fairly warm to the touch. Turn off heat and let stand. Every couple of hours, re-heat the oil, and then let stand. Continue this for 24 to 48 hours. Be sure to heat the oil slowly and avoid letting the temperature get overly hot.
  3. Strain off the evergreen needles from the warm oil using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Compost the needles. The oil should have a light citrus evergreen scent. You will need 1/2 cup of the oil for this recipe. Any extra oil can be used as a simple body oil or for another recipe.
  4. Place the shea and mango butters in a double boiler and heat until melted. Remove from heat.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of the infused evergreen oil and the optional essential oils. Stir well.
  6. Set aside in a cool location until the mixture begins to harden and looks opaque. Don’t let it get too hard.
  7. Whip the mixture vigorously using a cake mixer, immersion wand, or other immersion-type blender. It should be light and fluffy when done.
  8. Transfer the mixture to jars. Store in a cool place. If it gets too warm the mixture will decrease in volume but will still be fine to use.

Pine Salve Recipe

Once you’ve made an infused oil, you’re just one quick step away from making a healing salve. A salve consists of three basic ingredients, beeswax, herbs, and oils. The medicinal oils serve as a healing base while the beeswax, although protective and soothing, give the salve its necessary firmness. You can change the amount of wax in your salve to give it a more firm or soft consistency.

The oil you choose depends on your intention and preference. Olive oil is commonly used in salves because it’s rich in omega-6 and omega-3, is soothing, and shelf stable. Other oils such as almond, apricot, grapeseed, sunflower, and coconut can also be used as well but are more commonly found in beauty and bath products.

Medicinal oil is a fancy name for oil infused with herbs.  The process is as simple as choosing a high-quality oil and heating the oil to just the right temperature for extraction. We typically use olive oil for medicinal purposes and salves due to their nature but there are other oils that can be used for bath or massage oils. In making a medicinal oil there are two general paths to take, the double boiler or solar method.  The solar method takes 4-6 weeks in the sun while the double boiler takes a few hours on the stove top.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 Tablespoons of infused oil, strained
  • 1 Tablespoon beeswax
  • Double boiler
  • Storage container

What to do

  • In a double boiler on low heat, melt the oil and beeswax so it has combined. Stir occasionally.
  • Once the beeswax has melted you may want to perform a consistency test. To do this, place a teaspoon of the salve onto a sheet of wax paper and place in the freezer for 1-2 minutes. Check to see if the consistency is what you’re going for. You may need to add more wax or more oil.
  • Next, carefully pour the salve into a storage container and allow to fully cool
  • Label and store in a cool, dark place for several months
  • Use for externally for wounds or a chest rub

Pine Salt Recipe

Herbal salts are a wonderful way to incorporate your favorite herbs into a dish. Before you go to it, you’ll need to decide whether you prefer salted herbs or herbals salts. In other words, whether you want to showcase the herbs and use less salt or compliment the salt with a few herbs. Typically a herbal salt ratio is 1:1 salt to herb but there’s so much room to play!

Ingredients

  • Your choice of salt (Coarse Sea Salt, Kosher Salt, Himalayan Salt, and more!)
  • Your choice of herb(s)
  • For this recipe we will use fresh pine needles (white and eastern hemlock) and fresh garlic
  • You will want to start off with 1 part salt to 2 parts herb. You can then decide if you want more salt as it’s easier to add.
  • Simply chop the herb(s) into the salt and mix
  • Store in a cool, dark place and use as needed!
  • The salt will act as a natural preservative, it will also cause the herbs to lose their moisture and shrink.

Other herbs to try:

Rosemary, citrus, parsley, fire cider, cayenne, red pepper, mustard, seaweed, nettle, basil or basil flowers, geranium. lavender, dill, fennel, rose, thyme, lovage, chives, kelp, leek, and so on. So many possibilities!

Checkout Spruce Tip Ice Cream & Pickled Spruce Tips for evergreen ideas in the spring!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s