We’re fortunate to have several mature pine trees providing summer shade, and right now, the pine cones are green. I love the smell of pine needles, and especially enjoy that fragrance (and flavor) in wild-fermented Pine-Lime-Ginger soda.
After plucking a couple of immature cones from one of the trees (ouch – prickly!) I also took the liberty of breaking off a couple of sprigs of needles. The needles are where the fragrance is strongest, and bruising them releases even more of the oils. There are a couple of different types of pine trees growing here, and it would be an interesting experiment to compare the flavors in fermented beverages…I’ll file this idea away for a future post!
The pine needles and cones are placed in a half gallon jar and sliced ginger (unpeeled) is added. I used a piece of ginger that was about an inch long and an inch wide. Use more or less as you choose. The ginger also has wild microbes on its skin that will help the ferment become active. It’s hit or miss on the quality of fresh ginger available at the one grocery store in town, but I’ve found that the local Asian (Korean-owned) market consistently has fresh, plump ginger. My personal theory is that since ginger is a ubiquitous ingredient in Asian food, discriminating Asian customers would probably give the proprietors of the grocery an earful if the ginger was found to be subpar – after all, shriveled ginger in kimchi just won’t cut it.
I also found a few nearly mummified limes that had been in the crisper drawer for far too long – they were pretty shrunken and the skins felt hard. In the interest of avoiding food waste, I just sliced a couple up and popped them into the fermenting jar, too. The star-like shapes made an interesting addition, and the lime will impart a distinctive (and complementary) flavor.
Next, I added a half cup of cane sugar and filled the jar to the top with dechlorinated water. I stirred well to ensure that the sugar was dissolved, then put a breathable cover on top to keep out the gnats that manage to get into the house at this time of year and haunt the ferments. This pretty mixture will become increasingly cloudy and bubbly as the wild yeasts do their work. I stir it daily to keep the liquid aerated and facilitate the fermentation process (and because it’s fun).
It’s been a few days now and the soda is progressing nicely, as you can see from the pics below. I think it’ll be ready soon (and will be delightful as is or as an adult beverage with the addition of a splash of gin, vodka, or white rum – my first choice would be the gin, as the juniper works very nicely with pine).
Interested in seeing the finished beverage? I’ll post an update when it’s ready for harvest…if you can’t wait, check out this earlier post!