Pine Needles For Dinner

Kirk saw Buttermilk, our yearling goat, chomping away on the new growth on a pine tree and wondered, ‘Is it really that good?’ Our experience with pine needles is to make it into tea.  It tastes just like you would expect – piney. Tolerable to drink as a survival tea but not exactly tasty. We had the hard, poky ones but these Buttermilk was eating were new and tender, could they taste different? Meat, vegetables, fruit, etc. differentiate greatly to the pallate depending on the developmental growth stage so maybe this is too.

If you’ve a hankering to try it yourself, just be careful which kind of pine you choose. Norfolk Island Pine and Yew pine are poisonous though actually not pines at all.  Ponderous is poisonous to cattle at certain stages of pregnancy causing abortion but no reference I could find with humans. Proceed with knowledge in hand. Stanley, Bertha, Frank, Feona, Febee, and The Sentinels (Yes, we name our trees. How else is everyone suppose to know which one I want the hose drug to, to water?) are all fine. I’ve read that a bit of lemon and honey masks the flavor somewhat of pine in tea and I may have to give that a try even though lemons would not be available in a survival situation. Spearmint would. The little girls just picked some growing wild in the yard and I’ve dried it. I may have to try it just so I know.

You might be turning up your nose at the idea but the soldiers at Fort Phil Kearny with eye balls falling out because of scurvy most likely would have welcomed it. The poor souls lived right next to a pine forest teaming with Vitamin C in the needles and inside of the bark, the cure in their grasp, and yet they suffered intolerably and died. This was 1866 to 1868 and one would of thought they would have more knowledge of the things of the earth than we do but keep in mind that most of these soldiers came from the cities in England where food and medicine was purchased at the market. Pretty much like today. How in the world would I know about this? Eye balls falling out is one of the scary stories told on Full Moon Fort in October when you tour Fort Phil Kearny’s grounds by lantern light following a guide who recounts spooky, gruesome details of the fort’s history. Of course they don’t add the pine needle part or where the soldiers were from. That is just something I’ve learned on my own.


From 1536 there is a story of the French explorer, Jacques Cartier and his crew of sailors which after a long voyage were suffering badly from scurvy. The Iroquois showed them how to make pine needle tea and through the drinking of it, their health was fully restored.  Might ought to think about checking out the pine trees in your area. I’d rather have the knowledge and experience just in case. Venezuela never thought they’d be in the situation they are in either.

So… would this new growth taste the same as pine needle tea or better? The adventurous man that he is, Kirk tried it timidly chopping down on the green spikes. Then he brought some in for me to try. My mind was racing, ‘Was this going to be ‘misery loves company or it’s great and I want to share’? Surprisingly, it wasn’t bad. Super tender and not at all piney to the taste. A stir fry came to mine with this new growth mixed with other vegetables to add fresh vitamins in the spring and stretch supplies if need be. IMG_8960.JPG

Researching pine needle tea, I found them for sale on the internet. Who would have thunk. Surprised me and made me wonder who’s buying it? As for me, I’ll dry some of the new growth if the need arises rather than the piney flavored older ones. It would be higher in Vitamin C anyway. But even if I have to use mature needles, I’m not letting my eye balls fall out no matter if it does taste piney. I’ve got at least some honey to add and I wonder if dried wild spearmint would help. Just dried some the other day.

Have you tried pine needle tea yet?

5 thoughts on “Pine Needles For Dinner

  1. Darla

    We have a lot of cedar trees but no pine trees in my area. I go to the park about 20 miles away & get my pine needles there.

    The Native Americans used pine needles to make baskets. I took a class on pine needle baskets.

    We need to plant some pine trees at the house. Maybe we can plant some this fall

    Thanks for the information


  2. Are you using the foliage in the pictures? It is spruce. It seems to be blue spruce, Picea pungens. Sap from black spruce makes nice chewing gum. I suspect that blue spruce sap would be comparable. I used sap from common Douglas fir just because it was there. The only spruce is a black spruce at the farm. I have not tried it as tea just because there is so much out there that makes nice herbal tea, and I do not drink much tea anyway. I have not tried pine either. Monterey pine is native just a short distance from here, and is still somewhat common in landscapes.


  3. J > The fresh growth will be rich in sugars, and whilst you may get enough of sugar from other sources, for animals it’ll be very desirable! Moreover, apparently, masticating has the effect of converting starches into sugars, so the shoots may taste sweeter when chewed than when made into a tea.


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