|Spruce Tip Jelly|
Spruce is in the Pine family, so I'd think that the uses of the trees would be similar. The picture below shows the new growth that still has that brown coating on the tip. If they are still there when you pick the tips, then brush them off. Most of the ones we picked had already filled out a little and pushed off that brown tips.
Spruce tips are slightly tart. Not near as sour as a lemon, but once you take a sip of the tea you will not be surprised that they are so high in Vitamin C. Spruce Tip Jelly and tea are delicious!
This year I used a recipe from the Alaska Extension Service that calls for white granulated sugar. In years past, I extracted the juice, and then used a combination of honey and brown sugar instead of white sugar. My husband didn't care for my first few batches of Spruce Tip Jelly, but he enjoyed it this year. A few years ago I gave a jar to a friend in town who owns a wonderful Bed & Breakfast. She and her husband loved it, and let each of their guests sample just a taste each morning as a special treat.
Here's the recipe:
How to Extract Juice from Spruce Tips:Yield: about 3 cups (enough for one batch of Spruce Tip Jelly)
- Gather at least 9 cups of spruce tips. Spruce tips are the new, soft, bright green growth on the tips of spruce branches.
- Place the cleaned spruce tips in a large saucepan. Fill pan with water to within two inches below the top. You should be able to see the water, but it should not cover the spruce tips. (The amount of water isn't critical.)
- Here's where I did not follow the extension service. I simply heat the water and allow the spruce tips to simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes. The extension service book says, "Bring to a boil in a covered saucepan and boil for 1 hour; reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours." I think that's overkill.
- Drain through a colander, and then strain the juice through a jelly bag or several layers of cheesecloth.
Spruce Tip JellyYield: about 5 cups
3 cups spruce tip juice
4 cups granulated sugar
1 package powdered pectin (1 3/4 ounces)
- Sterilize canning jars and prepare lids.
- Measure sugar and set aside.
- Measure spruce tip juice into a large saucepan.
- Add pectin and stir until dissolved.
- Place on high heat; stir constantly and bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
- At once stir in sugar.
- Bring to a full rolling boil; boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and quickly skim off form. (Note: adding 1/2 tsp. butter to the juice helps reduce foaming.)
- Immediately pour jelly into hot canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space.
- Wipe jar rims and ad prepared two-piece lids.
- Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.
Spruce Tip TeaThis can be made two ways. I prefer to place a handful of spruce tips in a jar with a lid, fill with enough boiling water for a mug of tea, place the lid on the jar and let steep until cool enough to sip. Some people prefer to toss the spruce tips into a pot of boiling water and boil for about 5 minutes. I think that kills too many nutrients. Either way, strain and serve hot with honey or maple sugar to sweeten, if you like. Spruce Tip Tea is also nice with the addition of a few whole cloves, a little cinnamon, nutmeg, or grated orange peel.
Spruce tips can be gathered and used throughout the year, but they are best during the spring.