Ok, I’m dating myself, for those who remember the old Grape Nuts commercial eons ago, but I am a big fan of Euell Gibbons. While I have eaten from pine and spruce trees, I have never preserved that lovely flavor of winter to enjoy year round. There is a small window to harvest the new growth, and here, the time is now.
I got the inspiration from the amazing forager Hilda, from Along the Grapevine, and here is her informative post Tips on Spruce.
The flavor of these tender tips is a very light citrus with a hint of wintery resin. Of course eating a handful at one time might be a bit much, but it is fun to nibble on freshly gathered food from the wild.
Distracted by lovely blue flax and other wild flowers.
And the fragrance from the blooming sagebrush is so sweet!
I gather the spruce tips in a ziplock bag and almost have enough.
Spread them out and pick through to remove any bits of the brown covering, or…
I did not want to dehydrate them and lose the moisture and fragrance, as the most amazing thing about them is their tender softness. For one of the half pint jars I made a Spruce Salt, which is just the spruce tips and Real salt (Redmond). Pack the tips in tightly and pour in the salt, shake around, and pour in as much as you can. I wanted to leave the tips whole as opposed to processing them in a food processor as they will be easy to crumble when dry and will retain their shape.
As time goes on and the salt absorbs all the moisture, taking on the subtle wintery flavor, keep shaking the jar from time to time to make sure everything is covered.
The other half pint jar I fermented them with a teaspoon of Real salt, half kefir whey and half filtered water. When you ferment like this you can leave it on the counter for a few days to get the ferment going (especially if you only use salt and water) but with the living kefir whey it will ferment fast enough in the refrigerator. I will use this for spruce cheese.
For the last pint jar I packed in as many tips as possible and added good olive oil. This will infuse the oil with the spruce flavor and the tips I can use for mayonnaise or aoli, topping goat cheese tarts, and for spruce hummus…
If your season to gather these lovely soft tips has past, keep it in mind for next year, get out into nature and have some fun!
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Hi Jamie (Stephanie here). Lovely ideas here and can’t wait to try. An idea…I have a recipe that I’ve used a lot to glaze salmon. I heated apple jelly and infused it with juniper berries, glazed, then grilled the salmon. I might try to just make some pine jelly. Absolutely my favorite fragrance!!!! Ahhhh, aromatherapy. Wonder if you could also infuse beeswax and such for candles. Or dry and grind to powder and make a peppery steak seasoning blend. haha! Can you tell I’m starving and have not eaten breakfast yet?!
Oh Stephanie, I love your ideas, especially the meat rub! Did you look at Hilda’s post, as she has a lot of other great ideas. I’m definitely going to make the dry meat rub as well. Most of the one down low have past the time you can pick them, but up high in the mountains where it is still cool, there are a few picking days left. 🙂
Thanks so much. I love your recipes – especially the fermented tips for making cheese.
Well, I have not actually made any recipes, yet, but look forward to doing so. 🙂 Thanks so much for the inspiration!
Meat’s meat, folks gotta eat!!
We have young tips on our Piñons right now so I will have to go and try some of these this afternoon. Looks like it is going to be a good year for nuts with the precipitation we have been having so far. 🙂
How great to have your own Pinon nuts! I bought some one time with the shells still on, wondering how in the world to remove all those shells (husks?) How do you do it? 🙂
Some people have luck placing the nuts side by side between two terry cloths and rolling over them, quite hard, with a rolling pin. Or you can put them in a Baggie and hit the shell with a small hammer until you hear a pop, then remove the nuts. It’s a bit tedious no matter what, but so worth it in the end.
What a great idea! Thanks I will try that when I get my hands on some. I hope you have a great harvest. xoxo