Northern Russia, the Caucasus and much of Siberia are famous for their lush pine forests. Locals have learned to utilize everything that the harsh nature there has to offer. Pine buds and essential oils are used as a bronchitis cure, pine needles as a source of vitamin C, pine tar as a skin ointment, and pine cones as the basis for various recipes. The best sort are young green buds, gathered in Russia in May-June, and even earlier in other countries.
A genuine exoticism for tourists who happily bring jars of pine cones back from Siberia as souvenirs. Making jam from them is not that difficult either. The cones (2 kg) are washed, placed in water, and boiled for 30 minutes. After that, the mixture is left in a cold dark place overnight (12 hours). The cones are then removed and sugar added (1 kilo per liter of broth). The resulting decoction is boiled again until it thickens and changes to a dark crimson color. When ready, the jam is mixed with several previously stewed cones and boiled for another 5 minutes, after which the jam with the whole cones is poured into jars (about 6-8 cones per liter jar). Cedar or spruce cones can be used instead.
A real treat for those with a sweet tooth or two. To begin with, prepare a sterile container, then pour in a little sugar, place the cones in one layer, cover with more sugar and repeat the layers until the cones and sugar run out. One kilo of cones needs around 1.5 kilos of sugar.
The cones should be covered with a cloth and left at room temperature for three weeks. The secreted juice combines with the sugar to form a syrupy mixture. After three weeks, pour this mixture into a dry glass jar and refrigerate. The resulting “honey” is added to tea.
For tea, very young cones are best suited. They can be freshly collected or dried. Ideally, the cones should be no more than 3 cm long.
200 ml of water will need 75 grams of cones. These should be washed and chopped with a knife, then placed in a pan with boiling water and covered with a lid. The mixture is left to brew for 15 minutes before drinking. Medicinal herbs make for a pleasant addition.
Pine cone tincture is believed to strengthen the immune system and produce a sedative effect. The cones should be washed and dried with a towel, then immersed in alcohol (200 ml per 130 grams of cones). Leave for two weeks in a cool place, and the tincture is ready to go. It is usually consumed as a digestif, no more than one tablespoon a day.
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