You sent me off on another adventure. I just had to look up pine needles as a start for sourdough. What I found was a far different story. Yes, I saw a tiny elusive something about pine needles for a start but since pine needles are antiseptic, antibacterial, and some say antibiotic is that and wild yeast a good combination and will it really flourish? I concluded that with wild yeast so abundant on so many other things in nature, why choose pine needles?
I did find out some pretty impressive things about pine needles though. They are extremely high in Vitamin C. Five times the amount of a lemon. Plus it is high in Vitamin A. We know what C does but let me remind you about A. "The cells in our eyes that perceive light and color require vitamin A to function properly. In fact, one of the first signs of vitamin A deficiency is poor night vision, and if left untreated, vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness. Vitamin A supports skin cells and the development of healthy bone tissue. Vitamin A is also a required nutrient for healthy immune system functioning. It protects and supports cell membranes to help fight infection and increases white blood cell activity." (eHow)
I strongly encourage you to read about pine needles and their medical properties. The site belong was well documented and informative.
Knowledge about pine needles and the whole plant is a good natural medicine to know about for basic survival. I'm going to do further study on the whole plant.
The best thing yet is pine trees are readily available and though we have natural grasslands with extremely few trees, lots of people cultivate pine trees in their yard. There are a few breaks and areas in the county where strains of them grow naturally. Can't remember which kinds. That is important because there are three kinds that you can't make tea from. They are toxic. Norfolk Island Pine which is in Australia so I figure we're safe so far up north. BUT, we do have Yew Pine which at first I thought we didn't because I don't remember any bush like pine trees with red berries on them but I have lived away from the mountains for quite some time. I found several articles on Pronghorn Antelope that had ingested the brush and died in our state. So much for wild animals eating what is good for them.
As for the Ponderosa Pine, I know we have lots of them and I'm familiar with the fact that cattle abort their calves when they eat the pine needles from this tree. I think there are two such trees growing up by our little grocery store. My husband piped up at this point of my research and commented. Why was the Ponderosa Ranch with Ben Cartright and his sons, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe a success? Okay, yes this is a television show from our childhood but a large cattle ranch and Ponderso Pines seems to be a contradiction.
With a Blue Spruce growing in our front yard, I figured it was time to try out this pine needle tea. I mean what was my excuse not to? The big question in my mind was would the tea taste like pine needles? Not an appealing thought but hey, if I just took a sip, I could say I at least tried it. There was no rule I had to drink the whole cup.
We first popped up Ray Mears on U-Tube, our survival go to guy, and saw that in one of his winter scenes he did indeed do pine needle tea. So Kirk went out and cut a small tip off the tree and brought it in for me to be poked. There is a trick to this pine needle extraction deal. Smooth the needles in the direction they grow so as to get poked less. Hold one hand near the base of the needle and pluck with the other or a bit of the branch stem will come off with the needles. On this type of pine tree at least. This will leave a tiny bit of the needle left on the branch.
Then because Ray Mears chopped them up so did I. I've seen where they weren't also but I wondered if chopping released more of the goodies in the needles, like bruising does with herbs.
I then put them in boiling water and steeped them for a period of time. Until the water was cooler and the color nice and pine needle green.
Then we took a brave sip. Yup, tastes like pine needles. Should have used fewer needles, our was a bit strong but had I taken a lighter touch and mixed in a bit of lemon and honey we could acquire a taste for it. Of course lemons aren't something that grows around here so on a survival sense, they are out. I do really like the lemon and lime powder I made from the inside of lemons and limes that I dehydrated. Much better than the home-made lemon extract I did. I should have put a pinch in here.
We could mix this pine needle tea in combination with other herbs to mask it a bit also but I'm just going to put this tidbit of information in my survival notebook I'm putting together because not only would this tea make a good internal vitamin boost and medicine but the antibacterial properties would make it a great wound wash.