Making a Pine Pollen Tincture

Last week, I prepared a tincture of pine pollen cones.  Here's the procedure I followed:  I filled a quart glass jar with the cones, then filled that jar again (that's right, I filled the jar twice!) with 80 proof vodka. Then I covered, shook, and labeled the jar.  In about a month, I'll strain out the cones and be left with the finished liquid extract.

Photo of Pine Pollen Cone tincture

Tinctures are a convenient way to concentrate and preserve plant constituents.  Soaking in vodka allows both water-soluble and alcohol-soluble constituents to be extracted from the cones. Pine pollen tinctures can be purchased (SurThrival is one source), but making one is a simple enough process, so long as you manage to collect your own cones. If you missed this year's harvest, mark your calendars now for next spring.

22 thoughts on “Making a Pine Pollen Tincture”

  1. Josh,

    have a quick question: can I make a pine pollen tincture using cracked-cell wall pine pollen powder and 100 proof vodka? if the answer is yes…how much of each??

    thank you,

    giovanni

    1. Giovanni: Good question. First off, I would say I’m not sure. My gut says it would probably work (and I imagine commercial tinctures are made with this type of pollen), but I’m only guessing.

      I froze the cones I gathered before I tinctured them, which I believe has the effect of rupturing the cell walls.

      I find either 80 or 100 proof vodka to be adequate for tincture making, but with straight pollen I’m not sure of the ratio.

  2. hello and great info thank you very much

    i live in NJ near NYC – how can i get my hands on some wild pine pollen so i can make my own like you? do you know of any places i can buy the pine pollen?
    Thanks!

      1. Your very nice to answer, but I’m looking for a different source. DV is a little over priced. I’m looking for more the ‘mountain rose herb’ type place. As pine pollen is kinda cheap. There must be a ‘wilder’ type co that sells it. If you know any other sellers. Please let’s know. Otherwise thank you !

        I also found a supplier that offers cracked cell wall pine pollen. I’ll give it a shot with the alcohol too. I just wonder how to remove the powder from the alcohol after as it is very fine I’m sure. Any ideas?

        1. River Dean: I left the pollen in my tincture, but if you wish to remove it, an unbleached coffee filter would probably work. I do hope you’ll attempt to gather some local pine pollen later this year — it’s easy and quite satisfying.

          In the meantime, I’d appreciate any feedback on your using purchased pollen.

          1. Hello

            Yes I will let you know how the purchased pine pollen comes out. Am I looking for anything in particular from the end result?

            I would love to collect my own Wild Pine Pollen. I live in Hoboken/NYC and I miss the countryside/wild so very much. I am getting back in touch more reading your blog etc. I’ll get out there soon. Any areas of near hoboken nj that you know of I should go to? I shall look into it. Thank you again!

            RD

          2. River Dean: As in, how do you know when the pollen is finished infusing the alcohol with goodness? I can’t say for sure, but soaking for at least 4 weeks appears standard. Shaking the jar every so often and infusing it with your good intentions probably wouldn’t hurt. When you are done the resulting liquid should be yellow/brown in color.

            I don’t have any leads in the NJ/NY area — anyone else have a suggestion?

        2. i live in nj close to nyc too. i go to orange county or basically anywhere upstate or out near pa. stokes state forest, sterling forest, bear mountain area, seven lakes drive. plenty of pine trees. trees will be drippomg pollen very soon

  3. Hello, Josh: I live on the southern coast of Maine. When is it the best time to forage for Pine Pollen, what signs do I look for as I imagine foraging dates change each year, and, are there any usual sites that the public can use or is it a matter of asking a property owner’s permission? Thanks.

    1. Good questions. Foraging dates are actually pretty consistent (within a week or two) year to year in New England. The three native species (Red, Eastern White, and Pitch) flower in May and June. In southern Maine, collection dates for Eastern White Pine are probably around the first week or two of June, earlier for Pitch and Red. It’s best to visit a pine grove consistently in spring to keep an eye on their progress. The photos in the various pine posts I’ve written will give you an image of what to look for.

      As for where to gather, asking permission to forage on private land is a good idea and since pollen cone collection is pretty harmless, I can’t imagine you’ll get much resistance. Gathering from public sites (like parks, state forests, etc.) may be prohibited, so again, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Hope that helps…

  4. i live in oregon and a number of pine varieties are available….are all pine pollens more or less equal? thanks ivan

    1. Thanks for your question Ivan. From what I’ve read, all pines (Pinus species) have edible pollen. I can’t say for sure, but my guess is that pollen from any pine will be similarly nutritious.

  5. This is very neat. Thanks for sharing. We have a lot of white, red, and jack pines up here that produce quite a bit of pollen. I never thought of making a tincture of it. Why did you decide to tincture it? Do you know the nutrtional value?

    1. Thanks for writing, Wren. Arthur Haines opened my eyes to this special food/medicine. You can find links to the videos he did on pine pollen on my How to Gather Pine Pollen Cones post. I like to eat the male cones in meals (both fresh and from my freezer), and making a tincture was another way to imbibe pine pollen goodness on a regular basis. Arthur’s videos (and book) speak to the vast nutritional benefits. I hope you get to eat some in 2014!

  6. Hi Josh,
    1. I noticed the male pine cones were moist toward their center (where the stem is). Would this moisture present a hazard when making a tincture?
    2. It seems I could get more pine pollen “bang for my buck” by picking the cones before they open; but then I am not necessarily certain how to make them open up. Will they open up by themselves if I leave them lying in the sun?

    1. Thank you for your note. Here are my thoughts:

      1. I’m not concerned about moisture in the tincture. In fact, the tincture liquid is already 50-60% water (depending on if you use 80 or 100 proof vodka). That said, I don’t see any harm in drying them first.

      2. I suspect you are correct that you could pick some unopened pollen cones and let them “ripen” in a warm, dry spot in a paper bag. I haven’t tried this, but if you do, please share your experiences. I typically gather the pollen cones before they start releasing pollen and then eat them whole fresh, freeze some for later, or tincture them in vodka.

      Happy pine foraging to you!

      1. 1. I don’t know much about it, but it seems moisture is what lets things go bad. I want as little as possible. Not only that, but if you use whole cones you have lower pollen:alcohol.

        2. I set some on cardboard by a window, and the ones which had not yet opened but were on the verge of opening opened and I let their dust out directly into a jar. Let’s see what the rest–especially the greens ones–do.

        1. One of the great things about wildcrafting is that you get to gather and process according to your own preferences. You must be well south of me — pollen cones for Eastern White Pine are at least a couple of weeks away here in Maine.

          What type of pine have you gathered from?

          1. “preferences”–right, and my preferences are just uninformed ones at the moment.
            I am in Flagstaff, AZ–I believe the trees here take longer than usual to release their pollen because it snows so much. I do not know what sort of pine tree I’ve gathered from.

          2. 1. The smaller cones, which were greenest/furthest from releasing pollen, did not release pollen; when I tried to cut into them with a razor, they were either very hard (like dried sap was inside of them?) and green or discolored (brown, etc.,)–as if rotten. All of the larger ones, which were closer to releasing pollen, did dry out and release their pollen. If you ever use this method, at least wait for the cones to get a little “red” (depending on which variety you are picking–maybe some do not turn red before releasing their pollen) hue before picking and drying.

            2. The first time around: after leaving them to dry out, I thought most of them were “open” enough to release their pollen into Everclear; so I think I placed them into a small jar with Everclear and shook the jar (thinking they would release their pollen), then strained them out and trashed them. This was an error, since (when I tested some of the cones I had trashed, rubbing them between my fingers) the cones still had most of their pollen in them.
            I had just trashed most of the pollen.
            haha
            The second time around: after about a week or two I collected more cones and left them to dry out. I crushed them (rolling them between my fingers), leaving a pile of pollen and other “parts”. I sifted the pile, and was left with a very large amount of pure pollen, which I put with the rest of the pollen in the Everclear.

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