Yesterday, I taught a workshop on making Fire Cider at Debra’s Natural Gourmet in Concord, MA, where I shared my new favorite extra ingredient for the first time. Fire Cider is a wonderful and delicious immune-stimulating, warming beverage that Rosemary Gladstar introduced to the herbal community and named in collaboration with her students. Its origin go back to folk herbal and Eclectic traditions.
Like many ingredients, this one came to me serendipitously. Last summer, when I was setting up to demonstrate making Fire Cider at the Westford Farmers’ Market, I noticed some fallen branches on a nearby tree. The tree was a white pine, Pinus strobes. I decided that as long as they were there, I should include them. I added about a cup of pine needles to the quart jar that I was filling. Pine needles are full of vitamin C and have been used to stave off scurvy. They are also rich in vitamin A, anti-oxidants, and bioflavonoids.
When you enter a pine forest, what do you notice? Do you feel more peaceful and wider awake? Do you notice your lungs opening, your breath growing deeper and more comfortable? These are some of pine’s gifts. White pine stimulates the immune system, opens the lungs, and is a reliable ally for the entire respiratory tract.
Susun Weed first introduced me to pine vinegar, which tastes like balsamic vinegar. A boon to the avid forager, pine needles offer their bounty even in the middle of winter, when everything else is dormant or blanketed in snow.
In the early fall I decanted my pine-blessed Fire Cider. Wow! The addition of that balsamic flavor to the spicy, sweet, bitter, and sour lifts Fire Cider from the superb to the sublime.