This is the best time of year to collect edible evergreens. Not all evergreens are edible, but if you make sure you are picking only spruce or pine, you will be safe. The non-edibles or even toxic include yews, evergreen oleander and hollies.
I have picked spruce tips to begin with, mainly because I have so many on my property, but also because they are easy to identify and very easy to pick. I have not had time to experiment much with them in cooking, but if I wait until I work out more recipes, it will be too late for you to collect them while they are still at this desirable stage. They can be dried for later use, or infused in vinegar or honey or vodka. The new growth on the trees, small, pale green tips on the branches are at their very sweetest now. Just pluck off the small tip as you would a berry, remove the little brown husk covering the tip, and they are ready to use. Try one raw, and chew well to release the citrussy flavour which follows the initial taste of resin.
I am beginning with three methods of preserving: in salt; in sugar; as a sweet syrup. All these are easy to do, and will keep until you are ready to use them. And they are all delicious.
With salt: Blend 1:1 in volume coarse sea salt and tips. Chop in the food processor and spread on a sheet to dry.
How to use: Add to mayonnaise, salad dressing, fish marinade, roasted vegetables.
With sugar: Blend 1:1 in volume sugar and tips. Chop in the food processor and spread on a sheet to dry.
How to use: Use in baking, add to tea, coat the rim of a cocktail glass.
Syrup: Mix together 1:1:1 sugar, water and tips. Bring to a full boil, turn off the heat and let cool in the pan. Strain.
How to use: As a sweet topping, add to drinks hot or cold, soft or hard.
Check in later for a special spruce tip dessert I am working on.
June 6, 2014 at 12:23 am
This is amazing! I can’t wait to see what else you come up with on how to use them. I am definitely going to pick them. Thanks!
June 6, 2014 at 12:53 am
Glad you have a positive reaction to it. They are surprisingly tasty, and I am excited about my next recipe. Hope it turns out.
June 6, 2014 at 12:27 am
How wonderful is that. I have quite a lot of spruce trees in my yard. Will give it a try
June 6, 2014 at 12:55 am
As long as the tips are still quite young, they are good to pick, and super easy. I am going to dry a bunch too so that if I get ideas later in the year, I can still use them.
June 6, 2014 at 1:42 am
I guess they will be awesome in potpourris too. What do you think?
June 6, 2014 at 11:46 am
Perhaps, as they are very pretty, but don’t seem to have much odour. Or perhaps I have just been working with them so much I can’t smell them anymore.
June 6, 2014 at 5:46 am
Very interesting! And, how odd that I’ve run across two such posts using spruce – check out http://annewheaton.co.uk (they run a farm in Essex that grows Christmas trees)
The spruce salt sounds very similar to my rosemary salt – both piney and I great on grilled meats.
June 6, 2014 at 11:45 am
Thanks for the link to Anne’s post on spruce – I am always interested to see what other people do with these things, as there isn’t much on them yet.
June 8, 2014 at 12:31 am
How do you do your rosemary salt
June 8, 2014 at 1:08 am
I haven’t actually made rosemary salt, but I would do it the same way as I do the spruce. However, if you visit My Kitchen Witch, she has a recipe for it called sale aromatico which is more complex and looks very interesting.
June 8, 2014 at 5:29 am
Mary, I posted on “Sale Aromatico” – aromatic salt – that contains rosemary and other herbs: http://wp.me/p3Uj0i-2X3
June 6, 2014 at 8:47 am
wonderful! kisses from Italy!
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June 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm
We just collected some yesterday, and I love the pleasant flavor. They actually remind me of the green guavas we used to eat– a bit astringent, but good.
June 16, 2014 at 2:16 pm
That’s good to hear. I gather different kinds of spruce have different flavours – and the connoisseurs have their favourites. I can see they might resemble guavas a bit – at any rate, used in moderation, they do offer a good flavour.
August 24, 2014 at 2:07 pm
I came across an article in a “Food Arts” about Fogo Island near New Foundland. They wrote about how spruce tips have been used for years. They residents would bulk up their tea supply with spruce tips and juniper when their supply was nearing the end. The article also mentions a vodka and ginger syrup cocktail infused with spruce tips that sounded pretty good. Interesting post as always!
December 19, 2014 at 4:08 pm
Thanks, Gerard. I am going to look for that article – there is so little information on these ingredients, I am always on the look-out for any.
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May 24, 2015 at 8:43 am
Never would have thunk they were edible, Hilda. Thanks.
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