Introduction: Cough Syrup and Other Uses for Spruce Tips

The northern people have known the properties of spruce for centuries. It is great for building, it can be used as animal feed, it can warm homes, give resin and also heal you. 

These recipes use spruce tips, the young spring growth of the tree. The tips have great amount of A- and C- vitamins and antioxidants. 

First off you need to know your trees and identify yourself a spruce. Any type of spruce will do and you can also use juniper
The tips are at their best middle spring, when the overall temperatures have just gone above 5 Celsius. The tips should be soft and easy to collect. Remember to collect only from the lower branches and with a permission from the land's owner, if such is needed in your country. Removing the tips will slow down the spruce's growth so never collect them all from one tree.

After collecting, tips can only be stored for a short time. Maybe a day or two, so it's better to prepare them as soon as possible. If you need to store them for a longer period, you can freeze them and use later. 

Step 1: Syrup


1 L (4,2 cups) spruce tips
1 L (4,2 cups) water
5 dl (2,1 cups) sugar

If you like your syrup with a bit different taste you can add one of these:
vanilla, 2 tablespoons of lemon or 3 cm piece of fine grated ginger.

Soak the tips in generous amount of water overnight or at least 4 hours. This will remove possible dirt and re-hydrate the tips. 
Drain the water and put the tips into a pot. Add the 1 L of water and boil the tips gently for about 2 hours with the lid on. Stir the tips time to time. If you want to add vanilla, lemon or ginger, do it after 1 hour of boiling. You should really start to smell the sweet spruce aroma. 

Strain the tips away and put the aromatic liquid back in to the pot. Remember to squeeze every last drop of goodness from the tips. Add the sugar in to the pot and let the soon to be syrup boil gently without the lid for almost 4 hours. The liquid will turn deep amber color and start to resemble syrup. 
Pour the syrup in to clean glass jar and store in the fridge. 

The spruce tip syrup is excellent for coughs either straight or mixed into tea.
Adult doze is 2 tablespoons / 4 times a day.
For children over 4 yrs.: 1 teaspoon / 4 times a day. 
More than that is not recommended. 

The syrup is also delicious with ice cream, pancakes or even in your stew and roast recipes instead of honey. 

Step 2: Tip Drink


2 L (8,4 cups) water 
1 L (4,2 cups) spruce tips
2,5 dl (1 cups) sugar
12 gr citric acid


Rinse the tips and put them into a large container. Boil the 2 L of water and add the sugar and the citric acid. Pour the hot sugar water in with the tips and let cool overnight. Strain the tips and bottle the liquid. 

The drink can be stored in the fridge for 2 weeks or it can be frozen into cubes. 
Enjoy it half and half with soda water as a healthy refreshment. 
Adults should not consume more than 2,5 dl (1 cup) of tip drink a day. Children over 4 more than 1 dl (0,4 cups) a day.

Step 3: Tip and Berry Mash


1 L (4,2 cups) spruce tips
5 dl (2 cups) lingonberries/ cranberries, or other sour berries
2,5 dl (1 cup) dark sugar


Rinse the tips and cut them up as small as you can. Thaw the berries just a little bit if they are frozen. Add the tips and the berries to a container and mash them up together. Using a food processor seems to make the mush watery, so I tend to just mash them together with molter or with a wooden spoon. You don't need to try to make it smooth. Add the sugar.

The mush can be stored in the fridge for 5 days, but I suggest freezing it in small containers or bags. It is easier to thaw the mush in small batches, as it doesn't stay fresh in the fridge for long. 

Enjoy this healthy goodness like you would jam: with yogurt, porridge, pancakes or with ice cream. It is also great with meatballs and mashed potatoes and you can try it out with your turkey dinner.

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