Over the past few months I've been seeing posts and articles on some of the "foodie" accounts and pages I follow talking about Mugolio, which is a syrup made from green pine cones. Traditionally, this is made in Italy with unripe cones from the Mugo pine (thus the name). From everything I had seen, the process is pretty simple, and pretty much any species of pine, spruce, or fir can be used (different species = different flavor).
A couple of days ago I went fishing and I noticed an interesting pine tree on its own near the middle of the parking area, calling to me like a beacon. Upon closer inspection, it was loaded with fat, green pine cones that looked very similar is size/shape/color to the Mugo pine cones I've seen pictures of. I didn't come home with any fish, but I did snag about a pint of cones on the way out.
The basic recipe is a 2:1 ratio of sugar to cones by weight. I used a 50-50 mix of dark brown sugar and turbinado. You simply combine them in a mason jar and let it go for a few months. The cones supposedly release a bunch of liquid, which dissolves the sugar to make a syrup. This syrup then supposedly ferments. I'm saying supposedly because A) I have a hard time picturing the cones releasing enough liquid to dissolve most of the sugar and B) I have a hard time picturing microbes being so active in a fairly saturated sugar solution. But hey, it's a cool experiment anyways.
After a couple of months of macertaion and fermentation, you remove the cones, boil the syrup and package it. I'll try to update here as I go. So far after 1 day I can see the brown sugar looks a lot darker, like it had gotten wet. I'm still having a hard time picturing the cones giving up that much liquid, though...