Eat Spruce Tips for an Added Punch of Vitamin C
Every summer up in the high Rocky Mountains, the spruce trees start budding out new growth at the end of their branches. The lime green growth slowly starts to push through and is often still covered by a papery brown cone, and this is the perfect time to start foraging for those spruce tips.
Just before they start spreading out and turning into hard spruce needles, spruce tips give hikers the vitamin C and electrolytes needed to keep going and savvy cooks extra flavoring for recipes. With a hint of pine and lemon, spruce tips can be made into tea, beer, syrup, and all sorts of other delights. Their texture is soft and delicate and their smell is of new growth – less piney than you’d expect, actually. They have a short harvesting window – only 1-2 months out of the year – but can be frozen for use throughout the year.
Medicinally, they can also help with sore throats, coughs, and congestion. Natives of the area used spruce tips to ward off scurvy and colds. All in all, spruce tips are one of nature’s greatest gifts. When picking them, remember that further away from busy areas and up higher in the tree is the best spot to gather the tips. Around busier roads and towns, the tips are exposed to more chemicals and pesticides, and spruce tips down low are more likely to be trampled on or peed on by a dog.
Spruce Tip Recipes
Gathered from some of my favorite hunter-gatherer blogs and websites, here are some great ways you can use spruce tips in your kitchen.
- Spruce Tip Mayonnaise
- Spruce Tip Pickles
- Spruce Tip Syrup (great on grouse and other poultry)
- Spruce Tip Tea, Syrup, and Sorbet
- Spruce Tip Jelly