Crafting Drinks from Nature

Pascal Baudar is an author, wild food researcher, brewer, and traditional food preservation instructor in California. His 2018 book, The Wildcrafting Brewer: Creating Unique Drinks and Boozy Concoctions from Nature’s Ingredients, is a really interesting read about brewing and fermenting flavorful beverages (not just beers!) using local ingredients you can find in your backyard, garden, or other places in nature.

While we commonly think of beverages in concrete categories like beer, wine, and soda, Baudar encourages the reader to be creative and suggests combinations that blur the lines between these different types of beverages. In the book, he describes how you can find interesting ingredients in your local environment and teaches you how to use plants, fruits, sugar sources, malted grains, and more to create delicious beverages at home. Get ready to experiment! In the book, you’ll learn about:

  • basic brewing and soda-making equipment
  • how to make “wild” brown sugar, syrups, and other sweeteners
  • how to make a wild yeast starter
  • herbs, spices, fruits, berries, roots, barks, branches, leaves, mushrooms, nuts, and other ingredients to use for brewing
  • methods of brewing (hot, cold, hot-and-cold, fermenting a cold infusion)
  • carbonation
  • pasteurizing wine
Unripe Pinecone Soda

There are so many unusual recipes in the book – fig leaf syrup, mugwort-lemon beer, yarrow beer, dandelion beer, maple beer, herbal tea bag beers, a woodsy mushroom beer, several country wine recipes, lazy prickly pear wine, fresh mint and lemon herbal mead – just to name a few.

There is also a chapter called “Ethnic Drinks and Medicinal Brews” including tepache (a traditional fermented Mexican drink), smreka (Bosnian), several varieties of kvass, kompot, turkey tail mushroom soda, and others. Another chapter covers naturally fermented sodas. If you’re looking forward to springtime, here’s a recipe from that chapter you can put on your early spring recipe list.

3-Ingredient Unripe Pinecone Soda

If you don't have green (unripe) pinyon pinecones, other local unripe pinecones will likely work. All true pines are technically edible so you can use most any kind. For soda though you need flavorful pinecones like white pine or else your soda may not have much flavor. It's important to check the flavor as it ferments and don't let it go too long or the pine flavor can get too strong!

Ingredients
  

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 gallon springwater
  • 2 unripe pinecones

Instructions
 

  • Fill a 1/2 gallon (1.89L) jar with springwater.
  • Add 3/4 cup (150g) sugar and a couple of unripe pinecones to the jar.
  • Screw the lid on the jar loosely so fermentation gases can escape. Shake the jar for about 10 seconds, 3 times each day. Fermentation should start within 2-3 days.
  • Start tasting it after about 3 days, adding more sugar if you want more alcohol.
  • When you like the flavor, stop shaking it. Strain and pour the liquid into bottles.
  • Check the pressure after about a day (more info is in the book about how to do so). When you're happy with the amount of carbonation, put the soda in the fridge and drink it the next day or within a week.

 

Janie Hynson is a beginning homesteader in North Carolina. She works in public health and sustainable agriculture and is interested in how health and the environment can be improved through homesteading.

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