The Cottage Smallholder

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Homemade pine needle vinegar


Photo: Pine needles

Photo: Pine needles

It was Danny’s turn to buy the Balsamic vinegar last weekend. Someone had put an expensive bottle of Balsamic beside the cheap ones in Tesco and he ended up paying five times more than he could have. The resulting shriek got me thinking about Balsamic vinegar in general.

The price and quality of Balsamic vinegar can vary enormously. We have a very expensive bottle that we use occasionally for dipping or salads and generally have a ‘cheap’ bottle that we use for cooking. But cheap Balsamic vinegar is still much more expensive than other vinegars.

We use it a lot in cooking as it adds a wonderful depth to slow cooked stews and casseroles. I couldn’t think of a way of making a cheaper alternative until I came across this recipe for pine needle vinegar on Eat Weeds. Apparently it tastes similar to Balsamic vinegar.

Danny was suspicious.
“I just don’t see how it could work. Anyway where are you going to get pine needles from?”

The recent storms sent us a small branch from one of Anne Mary’s Wellingtonian pine trees. A perfect present from her woods. I was delighted with the bounty. Robin Harford suggests nibbling the pine needles from several trees to chose a good aromatic one. There was no choice involved for me but I nibbled a pine needle and it tasted rather good – rich, earthy, aromatic flavours. I could see that the combination of the pine needles infused in cider vinegar could taste wonderful.

So that’s what I’ll be making today. It should be ready by the New Year and already I can’t wait to taste it.

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  1. Jacky sutton-adam

    I’m curious as to how the vinegar turned out for you!

  2. Hate to be a downer, but… California recently enacted a strict law regarding lead levels. Products are tested and must contain warnings if lead levels are present. Basalmic vinegar tested very high for levels of lead, perhaps because of pesticides which were used in the past. I believe the San Francisco Chronicle carried the story. All the more reason to hope the pine needle vinegar is a success. I have some very delicious walnut vinegar which was supposed to be vin de noix!

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