10 Reasons Why You Should Be Foraging for Pine Needles

10 Reasons to Forage Pine Needles
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Welcome to my post on “10 reasons why you should be foraging for pine needles”…

Many of us think of pine as something that finds its way into household cleaners. And hands up if you’ve ever owned one of those awful, pine tree shaped, car deodorisers! But did you know that pine needles are edible? Yes, that’s right, they are a noteworthy food source. With the real surprise being how rich they are in both vitamin C and Vitamin A!

“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life…”

John Muir

10 Reasons Why You Should Be Foraging For Pine Needles:

  1. You’ll find they are rich in vitamin C, which is a great immune booster. (4-5x more so than freshly squeezed orange juice)
  2. A pot of pine needle tea will help relieve your asthma, chesty cough or sore throat.
  3. Likewise, a cup of pine needle tea will fight fatigue.
  4. Similarly, the high concentration of Vitamin A in pine needles will help heal various skin complaints, such as acne.
  5. Apparently these foraged evergreens can also be used to treat varicose veins!
  6. Pine Needles can improve your eyesight and are good for hair, skin and cell regeneration.
  7. They are also used to help depression, to bring mental clarity and reduce high blood pressure. In these cases, I would recommend burning pine needle incense or using an essential oil.
  8. Pine needles have anti-ageing properties. The strong antioxidant action of pine needle tea may help prevent premature ageing due to UV radiation
  9. The organic compounds in pine needles can kick start your circulatory system. As a result your production of red blood cells will increase. Consequently this can help combat illnesses such as anaemia.
  10. And last, but by no means least, pine bark is showing promising results in the treatment of ADHD. I know this isn’t pine needles, but it definitely deserved a place on the list!

NOTE OF CAUTION: Don’t pick from a Yew Tree as these are poisonous, although some die-hard foragers might argue that point. Personally I don’t think it’s worth the risk. ALSO, if you are pregnant, avoid all things pine as there is a school of thought that ingesting pine can cause miscarriages.

Harvesting Pine Needles

There are 3 important things you should bear in mind when harvesting pine needles:

  1. First of all, never take from the very top of a young tree. This will stunt its growth.
  2. Similarly, only nip the ends off a branch from the young trees.
  3. And whatever you do, don’t over harvest from just one tree. Make sure you only take a little from each tree.

This is a great little PDF that will help you identify your conifers and indicates those that you shouldn’t eat. However, I’ve also prepared a quick beginners guide, which you can find here.

Pine Needle Recipes

Of course, foraging for pine needles isn’t just about the health benefits. Here are some tried and tested recipes that use this flavoursome ingredient:

  • Pine Needle Shortbread.
  • Pine Rosemary Ice Cream.
  • Infuse them in gin.
  • Steam fish on a bed of pine needles.
  • Soak them in pasteurised apple cider vinegar for 6 weeks. This will give you a lovely balsamic vinegar.
  • Make a pine needle tea, add it to the gravy for your Sunday roast.

Are You Convinced?

Have my recipes and “10 Reasons Why You Should Be Foraging For Pine Needles” persuaded you to put your foraging togs on? Furthermore, are you going to have a bash at any of the recipes? I hope so! If you do, let me know in the comments section below. Or, why don’t you send me photographs of your efforts…

Recipes and photographs aside, I hope you have a great week and don’t forget to subscribe!

Lots of Love, Susan & Caber

About Post Author

Foragers Folly

I’m Susan, a Scotland based blogger, living in the heart of the East Lothian countryside. My blog posts focus on foraging, recipes, crafting and my travels with my cheeky four-legged sidekick, Caber.
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7 thoughts on “10 Reasons Why You Should Be Foraging for Pine Needles

  1. Hi Susan, any pine trees to avoid? We have a few different types on our land, wondered if some were better than others taste-wise?

      1. Hi Susan I’m in Portugal, we have several Pinus Pineus (pine nut) trees, they smell very citrus, so will give them a go. Love the blog by the way.

    1. Hi Diane, if you’re in the UK, this is a great PDF for you to help identify your conifers. https://www.forestry.gov.uk/PDF/FCBK015.pdf/$FILE/FCBK015.pdf. It also notes those that you should avoid, like the Yew. My own rule of thumb is to pick those with round needles and avoid the flat ones. The scent and flavour can vary depending on age and variety. They tend to range along the ‘citrus’ flavours, from sharp to sweeter…It’s a case of picking a few and tasting them for yourself…you can then decide which flavour you like better. I hope that helps…

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