Foraging & Cooking with Spruce Tips
After heavy April rains I was overcome with curiosity about the blossoming plant life. Identifying them properly is a challenge that is most satisfying and I am set on getting to know the medicinal uses (if any) of each species. One of the first and most spectacular colors to appear were fluorescent lime green tips on the surrounding trees. A quick search led me to discover they were Spruce and Fir and yes, they were edible. I found a recipe for Spruce Tip Jelly then spent the afternoon foraging for enough to give it a go! I took a lengthy walk so as to only take a small handful from each tree whispering “thank you” top each one before moving on.
I knew I wanted to modify the recipe I’d found just a bit but this was also my first time making Jam without my mother so I was a bit nervous. I love playing with flavor and color so my goal was to try using a natural dye to paint my jam a magickal hue. The smell of the fresh chopped spruce tips was invigorating and the taste even more so. It’s not what you’d expect, the soft tips burst with a lemon/lime flavor.
I boiled the tips for about ten minutes and then let it come to room temperate before straining them out through cheese cloth. A milky slightly green liquid was left behind.
Added my pectin, lemon, sugar and two secret ingredients and to my pleasure and surprise was left with a beautiful, lilac colored jelly.
Andrew suggested “Shire Jam” for the name and I lit up. It feels like we live in a wooden oasis like in LOTR and this jam deserves a magical name. We tasted it the next day after it set up and it is delicious. Notes of lime and honey. No “tree” taste. I highly suggest you try if your tips are still soft or you set it as a goal for next Spring. Andrew and I foraged for more tips a few days later so I could make a few more jars to give to friends and family. I added some edible flowers and lemon pulp to go from jelly to jam (as I prefer the texture).