Spruce tips, the clumps of bright green new spruce needles that rip out of their papery shells in spring, are not only edible but packed with vitamin C – making them one of the healthiest foraged foodstuffs going. We like to drink ours, so here are five top (spruce) tips to give your tipples the needle…
1. Spruce beer
Way back in the day, long before hops were added to beer, spruce tips were one of the flavours of choice with Captain Cook, among others, making the stuff to help fight scurvy. We’re trying out a traditional method of brewing them with black treacle (molasses) as our sugary fermentable and will then experiment with more familiar malt extract versions. Watch this space…
2. Spruce wine
Not something we’ve tried – yet – but who wouldn’t want to settle down to watch one of Ray Mears’ outdoor TV shows with a glass of cold, crisp, citrusy white wine infused with the essence of a spring forest? Eh?
3. Spruce tip vodka
Like our spruce needle vodka but even fresher.
4. Spruce tea
Lightly bash half a dozen spruce tips and drop them in a cup of boiling water. Say goodbye to that lingering cold.
5. Spruce tip syrup
Make a simple sugar syrup, dunk your tips into the mix and leave it overnight. This sweet infusion can be added to cordials, cocktails and, erm, cakes (or more appropriate desserts that don’t begin with ‘C’).
NOTE #1: You can also use pine tips but NOT the similar-ish looking yew tree tips. It will kill more than your cold.
NOTE #2: Don’t deprive a tree of all its tips – that would be cruel – and pick from the bottom. The uppermost tips are more vital to its continued growth.