Spruce tips are a versatile ingredient in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes and can be frozen or dried for use throughout the year. Photos by Cathie Archbould, Archbould Photography.
A candy, a spice, a tea, and great to snack on fresh — all this in the spruce tip! Pick some now and enjoy them all year long. At this time of year throughout the North the spruce trees are starting to put on their new growth.
The dark green of the existing branches is highlighted by the bright green of new tips. These emerging spruce tips are a delicious and versatile wild food and high in Vitamin C. Spruce tips have a distinct taste — citrus with a hint of resin. You can snack on them fresh or or add them to salads. Dried spruce tips can be ground in a coffee grinder and make a great nutmeg like spice – check out the recipe for Moose Steak with Yukon Rub and for Northern Pumpkin Pie! They can also be used in teas.
Candied spruce tips make a delicious snack and they store well in the fridge in a mason jar. The remaining birch syrup infused with spruce tips makes a wonderful coniferous-deciduous syrup blend that can then be used to make Spruce Tip Spritzers.
To enjoy spruce tips all year long, store them in the freezer. Or dry some to grind for a spice later in the year. You’ll know the spruce tips are ready to pick when they are bright green with a small brown husk at the end. Knock off the husk before using. Remember that this is the tree’s new growth, so pick sparingly from any single tree before moving on. It’s a good idea to pick a good distance from any roadway to make sure they’re free of airborne toxins.
Enjoy this versatile burst of Vitamin C from the forest!