The Mohawk Indians called the Algonquins the “Adirondacks”. Adirondack’s literal translation means “bark eater” or “tree eater”. During the winter starvation, the Algonquins would pound the inner bark of the pine tree to make a type of flour and eat it. (source – Living Afield)
Because it’s high in vitamin C.
Did the Algonquins know that? They understood that there was a health benefit related to it. I’ve also heard that explorers spending the winter with the natives would die frequently from malnutrition. The Algonquins told them to boil pine needles in water and drink it. They saved lives with their recipes.
On Sunday mornings, I try to get the kids to watch something educational. Many times, I turn to Ray Mears. As I was outside feeding the chickens last Sunday, my middle boy came out on the front porch.
“Papa! I want to drink pine needle tea today. Ray is drinking it and it looks good!”
I fired up Bertha. Here she is.
She’s big, ugly and hungry for wood. My neighbors from California think it’s okay to cut firewood into 24″ sections. That’s huge. When they give that wood to me, I have no choice but to feed it to Bertha. I might mention that if I had cut firewood to 24″ lengths for my father or grandfather, they would have cuffed me upside the head. It’s too friggin long for any regular wood stove.
I picked a pine tree and we went for the needles that were young and green. If you don’t know a pine tree from other conifers, it’s the one with the long needles.
Now, an old woodsman (there aren’t many left) will tell you to chop up the needles and throw them in a cup of hot water. Strain the needles through your teeth, they’d say. What kind of bushcrafter are you!?!?
Hey, old woodsman. Take a bath.
I borrowed a tea infuser from my wife. Chopped up the needles and put them in, then put some honey in the cup. I know, I know….honey in bushcraft tea. Not very bushcraft like, now, is it?
I let Bertha do her thing to the water, but didn’t let it boil. I’ve read that it’s kind of like green tea. If you pour boiling water on it, you ruin it by making the needles bitter. You just need very warm water. The tea was good. The kids liked it. Here’s proof. This is Willis. He’s like the guy you smoked pot with at college. Except he isn’t high. He’s naturally psychedelic. He sees the world through amazingly different eyes than the rest of us.
I used the infuser and honey for a reason. I wanted the kids to like it. That’s important to me. I’m the type that liked black coffee the first time I drank it. Not everyone is that way. People need to sweeten it up with a little cream and sugar. After they become junkies, you can feed them black coffee and, in desperation, they will drink it. In time, the children will drink chopped up pine needle tea without honey. I told them that if times ever got desperate for any reason, they should drink the tea. They think I’m crazy, but they never say it out loud. Which is cool. It gives me license to be dad-crazy.
If you haven’t tried it, try it. It contains the most valuable vitamin in your tool kit.
Mike, Oscar, Hotel……out.