The Cottage Smallholder

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Pine needle vinegar update on the making stage


Hunky, Nirvana and Anne

Hunky, Nirvana and Anne

I dragged in the thoughtful gift from Anne Mary’s Caledonian pine tree and started to pull off the needles. They came off reasonably easily but they had a little brown husk on the ends that attached to the branch. As far as I could remember Robin Harford’s pine needles were green from tip to tail.

So I shot upstairs to the laptop and examined his photos carefully. Not a dot of brown husk anywhere. The Sherlock Holmes in me detected that he’d probably cut the pine needles off the branch with scissors. I eventually unearthed our scissors (in the wrong drawer – they had been lost for weeks) and started to snip. At first it was fun and then it became a bit of a palaver as you need quite a few needles to fill a reasonable sized jar. Within seconds I was back at boarding school, cutting Anne Hunt’s hair with a pair of curved manicure scissors.

Anne was a quiet girl with an elegant mother who looked like a ballerina. She had shot to fame as she had seen a ghost in the dormitory. Anne wouldn’t have lied – she was a straightforward sort of girl. In fact I envied her. Why hadn’t I spotted this ghost?

Perhaps this was why I offered to cut her silky hair. This wasn’t a beastly move I just wanted to gel with her.

Her fringe was getting in her eyes. I’d spent years watching my hairdresser cut my hair. It looked so simple I was sure that I could do it. She jumped at the chance.

I cut her fringe in wavy lines. I was horrified but assured her that it was the latest look. The problem was that the rest of her hair didn’t match the fringe so I gave it a good trim all over. She was pleased with the wild cut until the next exeat day. Her mother wept on the portico steps and poor Anne had to spend an afternoon at the hairdressers.

So back to pine needle vinegar. I have made three jars. The one with the snipped pine needles has been christened Anne, the one with the brown husk additions is called Hunky. And there is one tiny jar with snipped pine needles and sherry vinegar (that probably cost the same as balsamic vinegar). This has been named Nirvana in the hope that it will be sublime.

Results in six weeks time. Watch this space.

  Leave a reply


  1. We usually go berry picking (brambles) the 2nd week in Feb but I have often thought a trek out there the 2nd last week of Jan might be more profitable. I will nibble on pine needles while Im there.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Alex

    I don’t think that I did get into trouble 🙂

    Hi Toffeeapple

    Ditto. Still willfull.

    Hi Miriam

    Great advice. Thank you.

    Hi Pamela

    Can’t wait to taste it!

    Danny has made the letter and number thing a bit easier now.

  3. Perhaps the way to approach this would be to cut the needles off the branch, although that might not be so easy if the branch is still attached to the tree. Mmm, I sense a flaw in that plan.

    BTW, the letter and number thing before you can submit a comment is a bit like going for an eye test!

  4. Dear Fiona, if you do any more of this pine needle vinegar, chop off the brown ends of a whole bunch much as you would do if you were chopping spring onions:

    gather a bunch, brown ends all to the same side, tap them on the chopping board to level, they lay the bunch down and trim off 7mm or 1 cm from the end; repeat with the next bunch.

    This is quicker then the scissors exercise although it will not bathe you in past memories !

  5. Toffeeapple

    Great story Fiona. You seem to be what I was always called – willful! I still haven’t grown out of it.

  6. Poor Anne Hunt – I love this story! Did you get into trouble for the DIY do?

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