I went for a walk in the park yesterday and picked a pocketful (I did not have anything else to put them into) of spruce tips. “Why on earth?” some might ask. They taste so good and are packed with vitamin C!
When I finished picking the tips I felt I had to thank the tree, and I did. This was the best walk I’ve had in months!
I surprised my 4-year-old with a plate full of these beautifully green tips when he got home from kindergarten. Needless to say, he was at the table right away munching the tips and making a wry face when the taste got too sour.
What are spruce tips?
The spruce buds are those tips of the spruce branches that emerge in spring. They have the prettiest green colour I have ever seen.
Why should you eat spruce tips?
- Spruce needles are exceptionally high in Vitamin C – frozen or dried spruce tips are good source of vitamin C during wintertime.
- They also contain carotenoids.
- Spruce buds are rich in minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
- Spruce needles have long been used by indigenous tribes for relieving coughs and sore throats.
- They also contain plenty of chlorophyll, which helps growing and healing tissues, controlling cravings, as well as transporting oxygen to cells. It also neutralizes free radicals, keeps blood sugar balanced, accelerates wound healing and bonds poisonous metals present in your body.
What to do with spruce tips and needles?
- I like to keep it simple and just eat them as they are or
- Add to smoothies and salads. For example add them to Kiwi-Avocado Smoothie
- Use dried tips for tea, which soothes throat and upper respiratory ailments.
- Use spruce needles as rosemary.
- Add chopped spruce tips to drinking water and let it sit for an hour or so – water absorbs all the goodies from the tips.
- Season your soups, pastas, stews, curries etc. with chopped spruce tips. It is also a great way to enhance mineral absorption from grains and legumes. Recipe ideas: artichoke-bean stew, tortilla bowls.
- Prepare a vegan oil-free pesto with spruce tips, pine nuts, basil, and nutritional yeast.
- Should you require something fancier, try out sautéed mushrooms with spruce tips and chives.
Some people like to prepare spruce tip syrup. However, I would not recommend it as syrup calls for tons of sugar, which just kills the benefits of those great vitamin-rich tips.
How to Pick Spruce Tips?
Here’s how it is advised to pick spruce tips:
- The 100 metre rule.
Choose a spot at least 100 metres from any roadway.
- How much from one tree.
It is advised not to pick too many from one tree or even from one branch. Every tip that’s picked is pruning the tree, so that it won’t grow back.
- From which branches to pick.
Focus on the tips that would be shaded anyway, i.e. the tips interior to the tree and close to the ground. If you have a spruce tree in your garden that needs pruning, you’re free to pick all the tips from those branches [source video]
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Sources: A. Kizhedath, Suneetha V, Journal of Pharmacy Research; W. Bowles, Total Health; Nutrimed