I've always loved trees in the conifer family. To me, there is nothing more magical than walking into a pine forest. I've long known about making teas out of pine needles and salve out of pine pitch, but when I learned that you could eat Spruce Tips, I got so excited! I couldn't wait to get out this spring and harvest them and get to creating in the kitchen!
You may be wondering what the benefits of consuming Spruce Tips as food or drink may be. Here are just a few:
They are high in Vitamin C
They can soothe coughs and sore throats
They alleviate lung congestion
They are rich in minerals such as magnesium and potassium
They are loaded with chlorophyll, which can help improve digestion, boost energy, keep skin young and healthy looking, reduce inflammation and neutralize free radicals.
How To Harvest Spruce Tips
I live in the Midwest, so prime harvesting time is late May to early June. The smaller the tip, the more tender. Be aware that different species of Spruce will bear different flavors. Experiment to see what type of Spruce suits your taste buds. When you are ready to harvest, take a moment to make an effort to form some kind of connection with the spirit of the Tree. Plant spirits are sacred beings and it is so disrespectful to just take from a plant and not ask permission or say thank you. Tell the tree your intentions and ask if you may harvest. Thank the tree when you are done, you can even leave a little gift for the tree, such as a pinch of tobacco or a flower. Make sure that you only take from mature trees. Leave the young ones to grow big and healthy.
I harvested my Spruce tips from a few different species. Intuitively, I got the impression that I should take the tips from the sides of the branches and not the tip. (I'm sure this was the tree spirit communicating with me). I also decided I would just take one tip from each branch. I wanted to make sure that when I was done harvesting, you wouldn't be able to tell anything was missing from the trees.
When you get the tips home, remove any brown husks and look for bugs. You can wash the tips, but usually they are very clean.
Spruce tips are very astringent and have a taste that is like a cross between lemon and rosemary. I decided that it might be good to pair them with ginger and lemon. I had some Kombucha brewing that was ready for a second ferment, so I added some Spruce, Ginger and Lemon.
I also decided to make some Spruce infused raw honey.
This is super simple to do, just fill a jar with Spruce tips leaving about 1/2 inch of head space and cover with raw honey. Take a butter knife and work the honey through the tips, getting rid of any air bubbles. I'm looking forward to using this honey in my teas next winter!
Other recipes I made:
Spruce Tip and Ginger Oxymel
Fill a quart jar with spruce tips, leaving about 1/2 inch of head space. Cover with 1-1/2 cups Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar and 1-1/2 cups of Raw Honey. Place a piece of waxed paper underneath the jar lid to avoid corrosion.
Lacto Fermented Spruce Tips
Fill a pint (or quart) jar with spruce tips, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Cover with pure water and add 1/2 tsp. salt. Make sure you keep the spruce tips submerged under the brine. I use a special spring and lid made just for fermenting. Let sit for a few days to a few weeks, depending on the weather. If it's warm, they will ferment faster than in the cold weather.
Spruce Tip Tincture
Fill a jar with spruce tips and cover with 100 proof vodka. It's really that simple! Let sit for 3 to 4 weeks. Strain and bottle.