Those flashes of bright green in your forest are a welcome spring sight… it means the spruce have woken from their winter slumber. Spruce tips are delicious, nutritious and easy to forage. You can extend your foraging season by looking in shadier spots for young spruce tips.
You can identify spruce trees by their needles. Spruce trees have individual needles that are stiff and pointy with sharp edges. The needles easily roll between your finger tips as opposed to fir which is flatter.
Spruce tips can be frozen or preserved in salt or sugar. Simply chop them up and add equal parts spruce tips and salt or spruce tips and sugar and dehydrate. Store in an airtight container.
While you can preserve spruce tips, be sure to only harvest about 10% of the tree to prevent damage and to leave some for the critters. You can enjoy spruce tips in a salad, with roasted veggies, fish or meat dishes or chop them up and add them to baked recipes.
Here are a few recipes to help you along:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup spruce tips, chopped
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
Place the water in a pot on the stove and turn the heat on high. When the water has warmed a little, add the sugar and stir until dissolved. When the water reaches boiling point and all the sugar is dissolved, turn off the heat and add the spruce tips. Put the lid on the pot and leave it to steep overnight. Strain out the spruce tips with a cheesecloth or fine sieve. Add the lemon juice, bottle and keep refrigerated.
Spruce Tip Vinegar
- 1 cup spruce tips
- 1 cup organic apple cider vinegar
Jam the spruce tips into a jar. Bring the apple cider vinegar to a boil, remove from heat and pour over spruce tips. Ensure the spruce tips are complete covered by adding a pickling weight or a small sealable bag of water. The tips will mold if exposed to air. Leave the bottle in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks, then strain out the spruce tips.
Use the vinegar to flavour your vinaigrettes, hollandaise sauce, or pour over fish and shellfish.
Spruce Tip Pesto
- 1 cup fresh spruce tips
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a food processor, blend the spruce tips, garlic, pine nuts, salt, and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add parmesan cheese and lemon zest and blend until smooth.