Saturday, May 17, 2014

Spruce Tip Part 1: Vinegar

Spruce Tips
Spruce tips are an unusual food, available only for a week or two in the Spring and to those to are willing to forage for some adventurous flavor. Quite simply spruce tips are the brand new green growth of evergreen trees. At the end of each branch a little bud of brown appears, it grows until the brown paper pops off and blows away. Tender neon green nubs are revealed. The tips.

Step 1: Make sure the tree in question is in a healthy environment, no pesticides, not too close to a road, you are going to eat them, basic rules apply.

Step 2: Sample your tree, pinch off one tender tip and eat it, tasting if it is a good tree. All trees have a unique taste. Some are horrible and resinous you will want to spit them out. The good ones taste like lemon and christmas trees and something mysterious and spicy. You will know a good tree when you find it.

Step 3: Collect the evergreen tips in a bag. Know that you are essentially pruning the tree where you pinch off tips. So like any other harvesting from nature, pick a little here and a little there, not decimating one spot over another, and leaving some for the tree.

Spruce TIps
Bring the found tips home and sort through them, the little pile to the right in this picture is all the removed bits, a few sticks, older pine needles, brown paper casings and evergreen flowers which got picked along with the tips.

Spruce tips are primarily an ingredient for flavor. I hear some people make tea or beer with them. I make two simple things, an infused vinegar and a simple syrup (recipe to follow in the next post.) The vinegar is infused for four weeks and makes amazing salad dressings, imparting a tantalizing pine note to normal salad greens. Not specifically tasting like a pine trees, it tastes like the smell of a christmas tree when you think "that smells really good."

Spruce Tip Vinegar
1 cup spruce tips
Spruce Tip Vinegar Day 1
2 cups white vinegar (or apple cider)
1 jar

Sort any debris from the pile of spruce tips. I cant see any reason to wash them. Place them in the jar and pour the vinegar over. Close it tight.
Shake the jar once a day for four weeks.
Once infused, pour the vinegar through a strainer into your chosen vinegar bottle. The tips will be strained out, they are very broken down at this point, discard them.

To make a salad dressing, mix 1 part spruce tip vinegar to 3 parts extra virgin olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Shake up well and enjoy.

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