Wild in the Kitchen: a blog by forager Will Newitt

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th December 2014
NeedlesThis is one of a series of bi-monthly blogs by Dorset-based forager, Will Newitt, owner of Down to Earth Bushcraft. Winter often requires a bit more imagination when it comes to finding wild food but one reliable forage, and a festive themed one at that, is the humble pine needle. The needle itself is too tough to digest but the oils it exudes offer a fresh and citrusy flavour that can be harnessed in various ways- it’s been used as a flavouring by natives of the boreal forests for millennia- as well as for some pretty potent Scandinavian moonshine! Will Newitt More recently, and particularly in the States, the flavour has featured on the menu of top restaurants such as Girasol in Los Angeles. While Gabrielle Hamilton, chef-creator at Prune in New York, recently wrote a piece for Saveur magazine reminiscing on a childhood smoking mussels over pine needles: read here. On this side of the Atlantic, Heston Bloomfeld has harnessed the flavour with roasted goose as well as raising eyebrows a few years ago with his Waitrose mince pies sprinkled with pine infused sugar. Unsurprisingly, pine also features on various Noma dishes- the world class Danish restaurant specialising in wild food. Their signature dish of asparagus and spruce is very intriguing: There are some subtle differences between the various species but I find an infusion is one of the easiest way to harness the taste and aroma and I’ve had success in the past with virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar and even gin- leave the needles for at least a few weeks for all their flavor and goodness to be drawn out. Finally, while all pine needles can be used for flavouring, take care not to confuse with the yew tree which is highly poisonous. Will is a wild food obsessive. He is a forager based in Dorset, where he runs a fledgling bushcraft business, specialising in introducing people to the edible pleasures of woodland and hedgerow. More info can be found at www.downtoearthbushcraft.com See Will's previous foraging posts here.
The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 10th December 2014

Wild in the Kitchen: a blog by forager Will Newitt