Swap Rosemary With Pine Needles In Your Dish For A Unique Herbal Boost

Siberian dessert with pine needles
Siberian dessert with pine needles - Solnuha/Getty Images

Though you may associate pine trees with essential oils and holiday decorations, pine needles also have a place in your kitchen. You can use them simply to add a foresty garnish to shortbread cookies, tarts, pies, and biscuits. But they have many other ways to impart flavor into dishes, too. Northern Europeans are big pine fans, for example at Noma restaurant in Copenhagan, a dish of reindeer heart grilled on a bed of pine has appeared on the menu.

Though the appearance of pine needles may bring to mind the earthy flavor of rosemary, pine is sweetly herbal and rounded out by a subtle peppery kick. While you won't necessarily be chowing down on the pine needles themselves, infusing ingredients with pine can impart the flavor you're after. The ingredient is popularly foraged by chefs, and infused into ice cream. It also pops up in savory dishes in the form of steeped oils, marinades, or fancy gels.

Before you head out into the woods to break off branches, however, be sure that the pines you pluck are not covered in pesticides. You'll be able to spot pine (the safest form to eat), as the needles form in clusters of two, three, or five, unlike the singular needles of spruce and fir trees. Although across Scandinavia, all kinds of evergreen needles are used. Once you have washed pine needles in your kitchen, you can get to creating, as the options are endless.

Read more: What Happens If You Accidentally Eat Mold?

Spruced Up Recipes

jars of pine needle infusion
jars of pine needle infusion - OlegD/Shutterstock

Add pine needles to honey for a brighter sweetener, or make a flavored salt mixture with the ingredient for a punchier salt to dress up meats and side dishes. A sprig can be a pretty touch to a cocktail glass, and pine needles can be brushed with an egg white mixture and coated with sugar to add flair to dishes and plates. Booze can also be infused with pine in the same way as you might with rosemary: Think vodka and gin that can be added to your cocktail recipes. Pine needles can also be used to make tea or flavor milk, and used to enhance homemade eggnog.

Any dishes that you have used rosemary in you can experiment with the swap and use pine. Infuse vinegar with pine, add an herby flavor to pigs in a blanket, or try flavoring your next lamb roast with the fresh inclusion. Whether you use the pine needles themselves or create an infusion to splash into recipes, you won't soon tire of the options you have to bring pine into your food and drink creations.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.