I had ordered some Mugolio pine syrup a while back, having first read about it on the excellent CiaoChow Linda blog. I finally broke it out the other evening, thinking of cool pine forests and, of course, the Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean gelato I had in my freezer. It was one of those “why did I wait so long?” experiences, as the syrup, extracted from pine buds, was delicious. It’s also good served over ricotta, fruits, and meats, according to the description.
The syrup has a deep, mysterious taste, and, really – I blush to admit – it reminded me of….well, here it goes, please don’t be too shocked – tobacco! I was a smoker for years, and am proud I finally quit, of course. But that was my instant thought at my first spoonful of this dessert, and not in an unpleasant way. It was an earthy, smoky flavor infused into a smooth sweet syrup. (Hmmm, maybe that’s why I love smoked maple syrup so much, too?) Maybe it’s from the process of extracting the syrup from the pine bud resin – you’ll find lots of detail at the Olio2Go website where I ordered it, and it’s a very handcrafted product. It’s not cheap, but a little goes a long way, and I can see always wanting to have some on hand.
Now, much like green tea, pine bark extract has been popular as a nutritional supplement for ages, although I wouldn’t extend that thought to this syrup, which is purely pleasurable. But I found interesting information at RuralVermont.com about pine’s medicinal uses in general, and about Euell Gibbons, the granddaddy of today’s foraging craze, where he describes preparing candied white pine, made from new shoots of the tree, before they become woody. Pine is also used in homemade cough suppressants, so it has varied medicinal uses, besides this wonderful syrup. What we need, nature provides, and let’s not forget that.