Mango, Plum and Coconut Soda with Pine Simple Syrup

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I’ve been making all sorts of delicious and refreshing drinks lately, especially in the last week. Teas, juices, infused waters but most notably some dank sodas. My two favorites:

Citrus Salt and Honey crusted Cantaloupe with Cilantro and Fennel

Grapefruit, Blackberry and Thyme

Today’s, however, is likely to shove those right out of the picture. It’s fermenting right now, and will be until tomorrow at this time, but it was exceedingly difficult convincing myself not to drink half of it while bottling it. My tentative soda plans include: Banana/Cloves/Parsley, Apple/Laveder (or violet!), Peach/Earl Grey/Basil and Apricot/Ginger/Marigold Flowers/Cardamom.

Pine needles, especially ones near the trunk, contain a dubious amount of vitamin C – about 5 times that found in a lemon (which themselves are considered an “excellent” source). Still more,  the bark from the pine tree helps us absorb vitamin c better! Whenever I hear these things, I get equal parts joyous and bitter; joyous because our home, Earth, is so attentive and nourishing, and bitter because our society is so removed from it. We have everything we need, literally driving out of the soil towards us and yet everyone is dependent on laboratory-derived supplements, mood stabilizers and antibiotics. We stare at catalogs to fill a natural longing instead of finding the inspiration inside ourselves to steal what we weren’t given. We are embarrased of sharing our ideas and lives with other people, second guess our impulses, care about sports just to feel passionate about something…anything.

More than just vitamin C, the chemical compounds found in pine needles/bark have antioxidant, antidepressant, antibacterial, antiviral, antitumor, anti-inflammatory, immune system-boosting, cardiovascular-protecting and triglyceride-reducing properties.  Pine needle extract is a potential treatment for depression, anxiety, and dementia.

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I used White Pine needles, easily identified by it’s clusters of 5, collected from a tree across from Closet Classics, the headshop my dearest works at. Here’s an interesting and sentimental little article about this particular type of pine: Great Tree of Peace. When foraging for pine needles (or any part of the tree such as bark, pollen, nuts), be weary of common types of poisonous pine trees, it takes less than 15 minutes to learn how to identify them (Ponderosa Pine, Yew Tree, Australian Pine, Norfolk Island Pine and Hemlock are the iffy ones) 

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ingredients

makes 2 liters 

1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut (I tried this recipe with coconut milk first but it was frothier than a hot tub filled with baby aspirin. Coconut water, while more expensive, would work just as well)

2 mangoes

2 plums

dash of salt (I used a grapefruit/mint/lavender finishing salt I made recently..perfect)

juice of 2 key limes

1/16 tsp yeast (champagne/wine makers yeast if you can find it! I’ve been using regular yeast albeit crude results)

2 tbsp sugar (probably not even necessary, I’ll experiment..)

~8 cups of water

Pine Simple Syrup, for serving (about 1 tsp per glass) (recipe below)

Juice the fruits (if you don’t have a juicer or, like me, you’re too lazy to get yours out, I just kind of, uh, squished them over the pot) Finely dicing, being careful not to lose much juice, works well too. Add all to a large pot with the salt, coconut milk and ~2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then remove from heat. Add in sugar, then add cold water until your pot is filled. Cover and let sit until it reaches about 75-85 degrees. Add the yeast, cover with a kitchen towel and keep it in a warm, dark place for 3 hours. Strain mixture well into a 2-liter bottle. Next add cool water until the bottle is full leaving at least 3 inches open on the top. You must ferment them in plastic, glass WILL explode! Ferment for at least 8-10 hours, or until the bottle is very hard. Careful opening it the first time, it’ll be incredibly carbonated! Serve over ice with 1 tsp of the pine simple syrup stirred in.

ingredients:

1 cup sugar (I used raw turbinado sugar for a deeper flavor)

1 cup water

1/2 cup chopped pine needles

Bring water to a boil, lower to a simmer and fully dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat, add pine needles and cover for at least 20 minutes. Strain and store in a dark colored bottle away from heat.

My view while writing up this post. Capslock doesn’t like soda, but sometimes she gets drunk to the point I can start mixing her vodkas with it and she’s nonethewiser. I tell her it’s 4Loko. She’s a lightweight and a fool.

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