A simple syrup made from locally harvested spruce tips is photographed in the author’s Anchorage kitchen on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion

A simple syrup made from locally harvested spruce tips is photographed in the author’s Anchorage kitchen on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion

Sprucing up summer cocktails

The spruce tip simple syrup goes great in a lot of cocktails.

Right now, at a spruce tree near you, little mint-green buds are popping out at the ends of the tree’s branches. They are easy to pick off and have a citrusy, fresh piney flavor that has many culinary uses. I’ve seen recipes for spruce tip short bread cookies and spruce tip ice cream. In the past, my aunt has ground the delicate tips down with salt for a unique seasoning blend.

I picked some tips this week while I was out looking for fiddlehead ferns. I had the idea of making spruce tip ice cream, but decided to do what I always do when I have spruce tips and make simple syrup. The spruce tip simple syrup goes great in a lot of cocktails, but it adds extra an extra bright herbal punch to a classic gin and tonic.

The simple syrup recipe is, well, simple. The recipe below is a guideline, but know that the basic formula is one part water to one part sugar, and as much or as little as whatever flavoring you’re adding. The more spruce tips, the more intense the flavor. Less will result in a subtle syrup. When making your gin and tonic, or other cocktail, leave room for a splash of simple syrup for a sweet and surprising twist on a classic.

Spruce tip simple syrup

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of water

1 1/2 cups of sugar

1 cup of spruce tips

Directions:

1. In a saucepan, add sugar and water. Stir on low/medium heat.

2. As the sugar is dissolving, add the spruce tips. Stir occasionally for about 7 minutes, giving the tips time to steep in the mixture. Take off the heat once all the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear.

3. Strain the liquid from the tips and place the syrup in a jar and keep in the fridge for about two weeks or so.

About the author

Victoria Petersen is an amateur home cook who strives to make recipes accessible and as locally sourced as possible. She previously wrote the column from her spacious kitchen off of K-Beach Road, but is now working from a small apartment in Anchorage. However, she makes sure to regularly visit friends and family on the Kenai — especially for foraging and fishing.

A simple syrup made from locally harvested spruce tips is photographed in the author’s Anchorage kitchen on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion

A simple syrup made from locally harvested spruce tips is photographed in the author’s Anchorage kitchen on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion

More in Life

Homer writer Richard Chiappone. (Photo by Joshua Veldstra)
‘Hunger of Crows’ perfect for winter reading

Chiappone’s first novel is set in Homer, Anchor Point.

Fresh dinner rolls made without the addition of dairy. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Baking for everyone

Dinner rolls skip the dairy, but not the flavor

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: ‘Tis the Season

The Kenai Community Library has always been one of the stars in the crown of the community.

Homer News Ben Mitchell, left, serves spaghetti to helper Pat Wells in the kitchen at a past Share the Spirit spaghetti feed. (Michael Armstrong/Homer News file)
Looking to share some holiday spirit? Here’s how

Share the Spirit serves the Homer community by donating food, essential needs and Christmas presents.

Appease your child’s picky palate with these tasty Tater Tots. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Tots to be thankful for

Two years ago, I spent the entirety of Thanksgiving Day in my green rocking chair, cradling my newborn son.

File
Minister’s Message: Keep in step

Sometimes it takes going half way around the world to learn how to “keep in step” as I journey.

Shelli and Mike Gordon pose in October 2011 at their Halibut Cove, Alaska, home in an Alaska Gothic version of Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” painting. (Photo courtesy of Mike Gordon)
‘Dagnabit’ features tales of ’80s wild Alaska

Gordon’s second book also tells of Ruben Gaines, creator of Chilkoot Charlie.

Before boiling, this handmade pasta is rolled, cut and tossed in flour to keep from sticking. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Pasta by hand

Learning one of the most important task of the Italian kitchen: making the pasta.

Will Morrow (courtesy)
The Great Thanksgiving dessert debate

Our holiday gathering is going to be smaller than it sometimes is, and it was argued that we didn’t need two desserts.

Dianne Spence-Chorman’s “Fig Study” is one of the works showing in the Homer Council on the Arts “Fun wtih 5x7” show through Dec. 22, 2021, at the gallery in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
‘Fun with 5×7’ offers affordable art

HCOA annual art show presents art in a variety of media, all in 5x7 format.

Make pumpkin chocolate chip with cinnamon buttercream cupcakes for a decadent fall treat. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: In honor of ‘Cupcake Mondays’

Pumpkin chocolate chip with cinnamon buttercream cupcakes brighten up the dreariest of work.

Nick Varney
Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Back off, Zeus

If this wet-n-warm, freeze, then start again, continues much longer, Kachemak Drive will need a complete redo.