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
1 1/2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup of spruce tips
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.