A longtime favorite in Europe, spruce shoot syrup and beer are gaining popularity in North America. The tender new growth of spruce, pines and firs were also used by Native Americans and early settlers for food and medicine.
For the best flavor, harvest the tender new growth as it emerges in spring. Remove the papery brown covering before eating or processing.
Use them fresh to flavor fish dishes, sauce or salad dressing.
Or try something simple like tea. Just dry the needles and brew into tea. Or create spruce vinegar with brown rice, vinegar and pine or spruce shoots. Just place the shoots in a glass jar, cover with brown rice vinegar, seal and let it age for a month.
Spruce shoots are also used to add the unique flavor to the Canadian martini.
Ask before harvesting spruce shoots from private and public property. And only use shoots from evergreens free of pesticides.
A bit more information: For more tips on harvesting and recipes click here. And for more on the history of brewing and cooking with evergreen shoots click here. If you want to skip or give them a try before harvesting and preserving your own, you can find them for sale on-line at Forbes Wild Food.
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