Have you tried the new spring growth of a spruce tree? What an amazingly delicious and nutritious treat. Delightfully tender and citrusy in flavor. Of course, the taste depends greatly on the species, as some can be more bitter and astringent. When searching around look for norway, white, and blue spruce in particular.
When foraging for any food, it’s important to be mindful of the source and the surroundings. Here are a few guidelines:
- Positively identify your tree! There are some evergreen species that are NOT edible and very poisonous (for example, Yew)
- In early spring look for bright lime-green buds to emerge from their brown papery casing. This is when the tips will be the most palatable and tasty
- Always harvest new growth from mature trees, as young trees need time to grow. These tips will eventually darken and harden, developing into mature needles.
- Never gather from the top of the tree, as this will stunt growth
- Be sure to collect less than 10-20% of what’s available. I find it more helpful to gather only what you absolutely need for what you’re making (given it’s under that percentage)
- Always visit places that are free of chemicals and pollution. Better yet, plant a spruce tree in your yard!
Spruce tips are high in Vitamin A & C, and are antimicrobial and antibacterial.
LET’S MAKE SOME ICE CREAM!
Spruce Tip Ice Cream Recipe
1/2 cup fresh spruce tips (chopped)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup cane sugar
Pinch of salt
Chop the freshly gathered spruce tips
Combine the spruce tips, cream, and milk in a bowl and allow to infuse in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.
Strain the needles from the creamy mixture.
Add the sugar and salt to the mixture and stir until the sugar has dissolved. You’ll want to work quickly, trying to keep the liquid cool.
Pour into an ice cream maker, and follow the instructions given. In roughly 20 minutes our ice cream was ready!
If you’d like to make some Lemon Zest Ice cream Cones to go along with it, check out the recipe below.
Serve and enjoy!
Lemon Zest Ice Cream Cones (or bowls!)
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (optional) or use vanilla
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup sifted flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Zest from 1 lemon
Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, milk, extract, zest, and salt
Stir in the flour and butter until the batter is smooth
Place a nonstick skillet on medium-low heat
Pour a heaping tablespoon of batter into the warm skillet and carefully spread into a thin, even layer. Moving quickly and keep spreading until you have a 6″ X 6″ circle, or close to it. This part is not easy and takes a bit of practice. By the 3rd cone you’ll have it down!
Cook the disc for 2-3 minutes or until the base has set. Flip and continue on the other side for 1-2 minutes.
This is where you have a choice – make a cone or make a bowl. The bowl is a bit easier than the cone if that helps with your decision.
Cone Making – Lift the disc off the skillet and very QUICKLY roll from the bottom of the cone to shape it. The disc will be quite warm so do this carefully. Continue forming the cone shape until you have reached the top, being sure to widen as you go. Lay the cone seam side down on a cooling rack for a few minutes to allow hardening. If the bottom of the cone is open, have no fear! You can melt chocolate and dip each tip to make a seal.
Bowl Making – Lift the disc off the skillet and place in a muffin pan cup. You’ll need to fold the edges carefully to fit inside each cup. Allow to cool and remove. Easy!
These delicious cones are best eaten the day of but can be placed in an airtight container for a few days. There are so many flavors that can be added to this batter, have fun exploring!