Freshly picked spruce tips sit in a bucket.

And lo, the winter is past! Summer in Alaska is just stunning. The weather is perfect. The days are long. Well, non stop daylight actually. And after a two week long springtime that consists of snow melting into boatloads of mud everything is finally GREEN! I am literally drawn outside into the forest by some inexplicable force. It’s time to forage again and late spring/early summer the spruce tips are at their prime.

What are Spruce Tips?

Spruce trees are king of the boreal forest. Just as the earth starts waking up in early spring the spruce start their season of growth. At the end of the branches bright lime green new growth starts to appear under a brown paper like coating. These little spruce tips are nutritional power houses boasting of a fresh earthy citrus taste with undertones of pine. If “fresh” were to have a flavor this would be it.

Spruce line the trail through the borreal forest

Collecting spruce tips is super easy. They are noticibly brighter green than the rest of the tree and plentiful. You just have to be sure you don’t mess with the ones on the tops of the trees (which in most cases is a million feet above your head anyway) and it’s always preferable to limit how many you collect from any given tree. When you pick a spruce tip you are “pruning” the tree for the season and that particular branch won’t have any new growth.

Bright green spruce tips growing out from branches on a sapling.

Caution: Spruce tips are pretty easy to identify, but please familiarize yourself with yew as it can sometimes be confused with spruce. Never ever every eat from a plant unless you are 100% sure of it’s identification.

After collecting the tips you need to peel any leftover brown paper coating from the tips. It’s easier to do this when they are dry. After peeling wash the tips and they can be eaten as is or used in many different recipes. They store well fresh or if you want to keep them through winter they freeze very well. I have also heard many people dehydrate them whole for storage, but I haven’t tried that yet.

Here are my favorite ways to use spruce tips…..

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About Mary

Mary Stephens holds a degree in international affairs from Georgetown University and a Masters in Teaching from the American University. Mary spent almost twenty years homeschooling her four children and is now navigating post homeschool life in Alaska. She offers personal insights, recipes, homeschooling tips and tricks and travel advice on her website Mary also owns Christopher Travel, a luxury travel company specializing in exquisite vacations around the globe.

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