I love the taste of pine and spruce and though I make my spruce salt differently than I used to I never want to miss the short window of when the tips are available for harvest.
I almost missed it this year.
Life always gets in the way of mushroom hunting, or gathering fun things in the wild. This year has been warmer than usual, so my regular spruce tip haunts were already too far gone, so last week I traveled up in the highest country, near Javier’s country but it was a bit too early. Way up in the Powderhorn Wilderness, which is the mountain range out our backyard, there are Spruce, Pine, Fir and many beautiful varieties of trees.
I put it off, knowing I would be driving through Lake City, on to Creede, towards Amarillo for a family reunion. Surely I could stop along the way and gather some tips.
Heartbreakingly, in the last year, everything from Lake City to way past Creed, many, many miles of gorgeous green trees, are now dead and brown.
Life got in the way when I got home and so I finally made my way up into the Powderhorn Wilderness to see if I was too late. I was, as something had beat me to the tips. Spruce Beetle.
The Pine beetle has devastated almost all of the trees in so much of the West, but this area is being plagued by the Spruce Beetle. All if the dear fresh little tips of the trees were brown, with a spiderweb looking netting, and nasty worms. Devastating.
This is what one of the bastards looks like on my car, and then I squished it on the ground. There is no way to squish them all.
I did find a very few that were not dead yet, so I only took a few tips.
But even some of these were already being devoured.
It is scary and unthinkable to realize that soon, this whole area might be brown instead of green trees, waiting for a lightning strike.
In any case, we will savor the fragrance and taste of these majestic trees. Thank goodness we have such talented photographers who are documenting the incredible beauty of this area, in case the unthinkable does happen. Thank you Allan and Francie for sharing your talent.
This time I made my spruce salt with chive blossoms and garlic. All you do is process everything fresh in the food processor, with some real salt. I use Redmond fine livestock salt because I like the added minerals and sweet taste.
Make sure you keep your fresh herbal salt in a tightly closed container, so all of the essential oils and fragrance will not escape.
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That all sounds so scary. We have had an infestation of tent caterpillars this year, but nothing compared to what you are experiencing. I love the idea of mixing the chive flowers with the green tips. I fermented most of my harvest this year, but wish I had seen this earlier. Maybe next year.