If there is one thing that this last year has taught us, it is that we have grown very used to having others do things for us.
Am I right? Like how about where our food comes from?
I mean, the whole concept of hunting and gathering and growing and foraging can be quite scary.
Like, it’s 2021 and I for, one, am grateful that I don’t have to hunt for my own food because I have no idea where tacos live 🙂
But, seriously guys, what if we all had to fend for ourselves and grow/find our own food?
There has been an renewed interest from many of my followers when it comes to learning about my gardening tips this year (you can always go to my “What I’m Growing” tab at the tip of my blog…or click here). It’s probably because, throughout this pandemic, we’ve had to re-learn how to manage without having all of the conveniences we were used to.
Enter in the home garden.
Yes it does take some time to grow-your-own but, man, is it worth it. Fresh fruits and vegetables at your fingertips and full of nutrients because ‘farm-to-table’ doesn’t get closer than this.
Where My Interest was Piqued!
A few years back, I was at a book launch for my friend Aimée Wimbush-Bourque (who has written some pretty epic cookbooks) and I met the fabulous Joel MacCharles who wrote an incredible cookbook called Batch. It’s all about preserving and pickling and has some great recipes. It was on his site that I found so much information on foraging. I had heard that he had pickled spruce tips and, of course, I needed to know more.
There is a lot of information online about the versatility of spruce tips, but pickling them seemed to be the easiest place to start.
Harvesting Spruce Tips
If you have any spruce trees in your area, you’ll notice the tips will begin to “sprout” anywhere between April and May (depending on where you live). By plucking the new tips, you are actually pruning the trees and helping them to make more spruce tips for the next year. You can, however, pick too many tips from one tree (the rule of thumbs tends to be no more than 20%) . And it’s best not to pick from a very young spruce tree.
When you go out to harvest the tips, simply pull them off the branches or snip them with small scissors. What you are looking for are tips that still have a tight bud (some may have the sticky brown coating. You can also pick tips that are about two inches long as long as they are still tender (they should be lighter green than the rest of the tree). If they are young, they may have a brownish covering (it’s like a protective coating that eventually is shed)…if it is still on the tip, simply pull that off to reveal the tender shoots underneath.
Why should you eat spruce tips?
After doing a bit of digging, I found the following information over at Nutriplanet:
- Spruce needles are exceptionally high in Vitamin C – frozen or dried spruce tips are good source of vitamin C during wintertime.
- They also contain carotenoids.
- Spruce buds are rich in minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
- Spruce needles have long been used by indigenous tribes for relieving coughs and sore throats.
- They also contain plenty of chlorophyll, which helps growing and healing tissues, controlling cravings, as well as transporting oxygen to cells. It also neutralizes free radicals, keeps blood sugar balanced, accelerates wound healing and bonds poisonous metals present in your body
Pickling them is an easy way to see if you think you might want to delve a bit deeper into this fabulous new treat!
Sometimes referred to as Canadian capers, they are fabulous in a martini – in place of olives (find a great recipe here at the Back Yard Forager!)
If you look in shaded areas, you may still be able to find some young tips now.
If I find any more in the next few weeks, I think I’m going to try spruce tip syrup…so excited!
I’ll let you know!!!!
Pickled Spruce Tips
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp honey
- ½ tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ cup water
- 2 cups spruce tips, rinsed well
In a small saucepan, add vinegar, honey, salt, pepper and water and, over high heat, bring to a boil.
In a 500 ml mason jar, pack the spruce tips well. Once the brine reaches a boil, carefully pour into mason jar over the spruce tips.
Leave jar to cool (stir 3 or 4 times to ensure all spruce tips are submerged in the hot brine).
Once it's cool, cover the jar with a lid and store in the fridge indefinitely.