If you want to bottle the essence of Christmas then Pine Syrup is the way to do it. Made by steeping chopped pine needles in sugar syrup it is a wonderful way to add some Christmas cheer to your festive cocktails. So, in the sprint towards the Christmas finish line, I’m bringing you a recipe for pine needle syrup and a pine syrup gimlet!
You can’t buy pine needles, so you will require a bit of foraging knowledge because all pine trees are not created equal. There are many trees we call pine trees here in Australia that aren’t always pine trees. Christmas trees are always spruce and fir and aren’t pine, and yew trees are toxic so you must avoid them at all times. As is always the case with foraging, ensure you read up about the item extensively and if at any point you are unsure about what you are foraging, don’t take it and don’t eat it.
Pine trees are categorised by how their needles are growing and if the needles are growing on the branch in bundles of 3-5 then it is a pine. You want to be sure that the trees you are taking the needles from aren’t being treated with anything and when gathering the needles, you want to try and find the younger needles which are a lighter green to the rest of the needles.
Pine Needle Syrup
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
- 1 cup chopped pine needles
Place water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and transfer to a glass bowl.
Allow the syrup to cool slightly and while the syrup is still a little warm, add the pine needles and allow to steep for 24 hours. After 24 hours, strain out the pine needles, bottle the syrup and store in the refrigerator.
Now that you have your syrup, what to do with it? Well, if you love a gin cocktail like me, why not make a pine syrup gimlet. Made with gin, pine needle syrup and lime juice, it is easy, refreshing and delicious – and not to mention festive.
All it takes is a few shakes of the cocktail shaker and you are in gin cocktail heaven.
Pine Syrup Gimlet
- 60ml Gin
- 35ml Pine Needle Syrup (recipe above)
- 20ml Lime juice
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the cocktail ingredients. Stir vigorously with a cocktail spoon until the ingredients are ice cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve with lime rind and a sprig of pine needles.