Zirbenschnaps

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Zirbenschnaps

Postby der wo » Wed Aug 24, 2016 1:44 am

There's a traditional Austrian mazerated spirit named Zirbenschnaps. Zirbe or Zirbelkiefer is a pine, which grows mainly in the upper regions (1500-2000m) of Styria (yes, the part of Austria, Arnold Schwarzenegger is from...). It has purple cones with a red sap.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinus_cembra
Here a picture of my holydays this summer:
DSC07094kl.jpg

The unripe cones fall down (or probably were thrown down by birds? Why should a tree drop unripe cones?) and are eaten by animals. So it's easy to find and pick some, but unfortunately the most of them are pitted. Under older trees you normally see more than ten or cones, but never more than one is unpitted.
Sliced cones look like this:
DSC06978.JPG

Mazerated with alcohol it gets a beautiful color like raspberry juice. Left jar fresh mazerated, right jar after 24h:
DSC06999.JPG

In those jars are way too much cones, because I only had two liters neutral with me. At home I did a "second fill" with two liters more.
I recommend per liter drinking strength neutral spirit:
- 4 sliced cones
- 50g sugar

If the cones are too ripe, the spirit gets brown instead of red, but will taste good too. Because of that, some climb the trees and pick the cones in early summer. I have read, 5g citric acid per liter help to remain the red color and improve the taste. Without it oxidation will cause a color change after a time.

The mazeration time depends on the thickness of the slices. Normally two weeks is enough. Before bottling I filtered it through coffee filters. Here the result:
DSC07216.JPG

It tastes resinous of course. But it also has fruitiness (it's not only an illusion because of the fruity color).

Of course this thread is mainly information and entertainment, because you will not find this tree at home. But probably there are other usable coniferes, perhaps pines. I have found recipes with cones of mountain pine and larch too. Of course you have to ensure, that they are not poisonous. Many coniferes have very poisonous parts.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby just sayin » Wed Aug 24, 2016 3:33 am

Interesting post, Der Who. Thank you for your post.
Do you do green walnut schnapps or Nocino? I have wanted to try it for years, it is always too late to harvest the walnuts when I think about it. I believe June 24 is the traditional date in Italy.
Last edited by just sayin on Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby Kareltje » Wed Aug 24, 2016 3:54 am

Nice word in itself: Zirbenschnaps!

Reminds me that there are much more possibilities than we think of.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby der wo » Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:17 am

just sayin wrote:Do you do green walnut schnapps? I have wanted to try it for year, always too late to harvest the walnuts when I think about it.

Yes. Similar like Odins recipe. But also a Geist (without the spices, only green walnuts and alcohol). And also "noix confites noires", something sweet without alcohol.
But green nuts are absolutely different than conifere cones.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby GrassHopper » Wed Aug 24, 2016 6:22 pm

That is intriguing Der Wo,
You mentioned larch. I am very familiar with larch. Generally called Tamarack here. One beautiful tree and I happen to have one in the front of my property which I planted when two feet high. Now about 20' high. No cones though yet. Thanks for posting that interesting drink.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby MDH » Wed Aug 24, 2016 8:25 pm

Aha! I've had this before. A family friend works in Switzerland for about half the year, and brings back all sorts of great spirits -- damassine, regional eau de vies and Zirben cone liqueur.

The bottle we had was rather tannic but actually improved after a year in the cupboard.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby der wo » Thu Aug 25, 2016 12:38 am

GrassHopper wrote:You mentioned larch. I am very familiar with larch. Generally called Tamarack here. One beautiful tree and I happen to have one in the front of my property which I planted when two feet high. Now about 20' high. No cones though yet.

With larch I did a nice vapor infusion with fresh young needles. I wrote something about here:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=60563
More famous for spirits are spruce needles. But the taste is almost the same.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby der wo » Thu Aug 25, 2016 12:48 am

Her two pictures I found for with larch:
200596-960x720-laerchenzapfen-likoer.jpg

200597-960x720-laerchenzapfen-likoer.jpg

The author writes:
20 cones
700ml vodka
100g sugar (this is a bit much for my palate)
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby NZChris » Thu Aug 25, 2016 12:54 am

I suspect I can see one of these out of my kitchen window, spring is not far away. It is down a steep bank where no human has been for twenty years.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby der wo » Thu Aug 25, 2016 12:55 am

And here pines:
kiefernzapfengeist-rezept-bild-nr-3.jpg

kiefernzapfengeist-rezept2.jpg
kiefernzapfengeist-rezept2.jpg (9.18 KiB) Viewed 1877 times

100g cones
1l vodka
120g sugar (probably my palate is wrong...)
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby NZChris » Thu Aug 25, 2016 1:01 am

I'll have a look around the base of the tree in spring and see if it matches your description. It'll be bloody hard work, so I hope it's worth the effort.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby Kareltje » Thu Aug 25, 2016 3:26 am

der wo wrote:Her two pictures I found for with larch:
200596-960x720-laerchenzapfen-likoer.jpg

200597-960x720-laerchenzapfen-likoer.jpg

The author writes:
20 cones
700ml vodka
100g sugar (this is a bit much for my palate)

The first picture is a macerate of cones and the colour in the bottle suggests that too. But the name is Lärchengeist, which suggests a distillate.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby der wo » Thu Aug 25, 2016 3:31 am

Kareltje wrote:
der wo wrote:Her two pictures I found for with larch:
200596-960x720-laerchenzapfen-likoer.jpg

200597-960x720-laerchenzapfen-likoer.jpg

The author writes:
20 cones
700ml vodka
100g sugar (this is a bit much for my palate)

The first picture is a macerate of cones and the colour in the bottle suggests that too. But the name is Lärchengeist, which suggests a distillate.

Obviously he doesn't know the correct terminology.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby shochu » Mon Sep 12, 2016 9:49 am

On the other side of the Alps, we do "grappa al cirmolo*" as well. :D Chopping unripe pine cones, adding some sugar, and infuse grappa with it.
*That's how the tree is called there.

In my region, another characteristic pine tree used for flavoring grappa (and to make a homemade anti-cough syrup as well :) ) is the "pino mugo":
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinus_mugo
It has a strong and characteristic flavor.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby der wo » Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:49 am

Thank you for the information. "Cirmolo" and "Zirbe" sounds similar.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby Birrofilo » Thu May 17, 2018 6:06 am

der wo wrote:Of course you have to ensure, that they are not poisonous. Many coniferes have very poisonous parts.


In the case of Pinus cembra, it might be useful to stress that this is the only 5-needles pine in Europe, which means its leaves grow in groups of five. This should be easy to identify without mistake.

You might know this plant as Swiss pine, Swiss stone pine, Arolla pine, Austrian stone pine, Stone pine, Zirbelkiefer, Arbe, Arve, Zirbe, Zirbel, Pino cembro, Cembro, Cirmolo and no doubt in many other ways, but it's always the same tree Pinus cembra.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby der wo » Thu May 17, 2018 6:33 am

I am thinking about Thuja or yew. Very poisonous coniferes.
Any pine will be fine.
Perhaps I will do sometime something with cypress. The needles have a very nice flavor. Especially the Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey cypress), which is available for cheap in every gardening store in my country. But probably treated with all kinds of pestizides. So I would buy them, let them grow for a half year



... and then I would not be able to kill them. :problem:
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby der wo » Thu May 17, 2018 6:35 am

... :idea: but make bonsai with them :thumbup:
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby Birrofilo » Thu May 17, 2018 1:27 pm

Why kill a cypress? Just milk him ;)

(Thuja is a cypress that actually contains and gives its name to thujone, the hallucinogen and potentially poisonous substance in absinthe, the family is called arborvitae, just like aquavitae, should be our friend :D ).
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby der wo » Fri May 18, 2018 12:08 am

But the scientific name is not "Cupressus xxx". The subcategory may be Cupressoidae and the subsubcategory Pinales, but it's neither a cypress nor a pine.

BTW, pineapple is neither a pine nor an apple. :eugeek:
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby Birrofilo » Fri May 18, 2018 7:58 am

Yes, Thujais a genus in the Cupressidae family, but not a cypress. My reference to "milk it" was to Monterey cypress, which you said you had no courage to kill. Why kill it? If it grows well in your garden, you can just collect the pines and make a spirit out of it.

Regarding thuja actually I think many in Rome would call it pinetto, many years ago it was omnipresent as a garden hedge, it was everywhere. An illness played havoc of it in the late seventies - early eighties and now the favour seems to have shifted to "false jasmine" which is everywhere around here in Rome and frankly the perfume is wonderful, I live at the 2nd floor and I can smell the false jasmine hedge of the garden below me.

[By the way and if I am not OT, I know true jasmine flowers are not poisonous, but what about "false jasmine", Rhyncospermum jasminoides? I think I could easily collect many flowers but I read it is potentially toxic. A "jasmine" vodka would be very nice.]
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby der wo » Fri May 18, 2018 8:24 am

All right, I didn't understand, what you mean with "milk it".
Anyway, this tree is sold here as "Zimmerzypresse", what means "room cypress". So it's a tree, which survives a bit longer than other trees when grown indoors. And it's cheap. It's something you buy and after a few months it's dead I think. Actually I don't understand, why it's sold everywhere. I have never seen someone growing it in the house. And for growing outdoors it's not enough hard enough against winter temperatures.
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby Birrofilo » Fri May 18, 2018 8:47 am

der wo wrote:All right, I didn't understand, what you mean with "milk it".
Anyway, this tree is sold here as "Zimmerzypresse", what means "room cypress". So it's a tree, which survives a bit longer than other trees when grown indoors. And it's cheap. It's something you buy and after a few months it's dead I think. Actually I don't understand, why it's sold everywhere. I have never seen someone growing it in the house. And for growing outdoors it's not enough hard enough against winter temperatures.


For "milk it" I mean use the pines of it.
Just like you can kill a cow and eat its meat, or "milk it" for many years, using it as an "income flow", so I did not understand why you need to kill the cypress, rather than "milk it", just collect the pines every year.
I didn't know this tree is not robust enough for German weather and wouldn't live for several years outside.

Cypresses and also thuia are generally very well suited to Italian weather and to grow outside. Actually I had never heard of using a cypress as an indoor plant. The only indoor conifer that I see it's Christmas trees, typically in plastic :ebiggrin:

The reason why people buys them to keep them inside in Germany is possibly the perfume. Some cypresses are very odorous and indoor the effect is possibly more noticed. People wouldn't do that in Italy because cypresses are absolutely common in cemeteries and although pleasant, that's "cemetery perfume" to many :wink:
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Re: Zirbenschnaps

Postby der wo » Fri May 18, 2018 9:20 am

In this case I think about to use the shoots, not the cones. Yes, I forgot to mention this. All those room cypresses here don't have cones, probably they are too young.
Yes, the normal cypress (Cup. sempervirens) also grows here. But I always think they don't look as happy as in southern Europe.
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