I always get excited when the weather starts to warm up and finally the leaves are out. For this means it is spruce tip season!
From pickled spruce tips, to spruce tea, or even syrup, spruce tips can be used for many things.
Out of all of the possible combinations, my absolute favourite one is spruce tip ice cream. Grab your nearest kiddos and head to your nearest spruce and you can soon have a delicious refreshing treat!
Sustainable Foraging of Spruce Tips
The most important part of foraging is doing it in a sustainable manner to maintain the health of the plant and our environment. Harvesting spruce tips is the same.
Always harvest from more mature trees and only at most 1/3 of the tips from a tree. This should not be a problem as spruce tips have a fairly strong flavour and you should not need much.
Additionally, try and not pick all the tips from a branch. Leaving some tips on each branch will ensure that it continues to grow and will maintain the health of the tree.
Harvesting Spruce Tips
Spruce tips are best in the early spring. Ideally you want to collect them before they begin to spread open but after they have shed their brown husk. You can take off the husk if you are early, the pines are perfectly fine at this stage, it is just more work.
It is also important to find a tree you like. Each type of pine has a different flavour, so try a tip before harvesting from a tree.
Spruce tips can be stored, frozen, dried and ground, and preserved. When I store them, I put a moist paper towel in a Ziploc bag with them and keep them in the fridge.
Spruce Tip Ice Cream
- Ice Cream Maker
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup spruce tips finely chopped
- 1 tsp lime juice
- On low heat, combine the heavy cream, whole milk, sugar, salt, and egg yolks. Whisking occasionally, heat the mixture till hot and starting to thicken.
- Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. If the temperature is too hot the spruce tips will turn brown.
- When cooled, pour the mixture into a blender and add the spruce tips. Puree the mixture until the until finely blended. It may take a while.
- Strain the pureed mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Cover and chill the custard over night.
- Before churning, whisk in lime juice.
- Churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturers’ instructions. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until needed.