I am part Tlingit, a native tribe from Southeast Alaska. My parents recently visited my dad's hometown of Pelican, Alaska, on on their return they sent me some freshly harvested spruce tips.
Spruce tips are a delicious, citrusy snack right off the tree- but that's a bit strong for most people. It is more commonly brewed as tea (it's full of Vitamin C) or turned into spruce tip syrup.
In my experience, spruce tip syrup is similar in application to maple syrup, though I read online that you can also make cocktails and various other recipes with it.
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Step 1: Harvesting Spruce Tips
Pinch off the end of the tree tips and take the brown scaly casing off.
Spread out to air dry. Play some good music in the background.
Best done in late April or early May as the buds emerge (in Southeast Alaska- will vary based on climate).
Your yield of syrup will be similar in volume to the amount you pick.
Step 2: Materials
You will also need:
- A pot with a lid
Step 3: Cook
You will need roughly equal amounts of water and sugar, which should also match your quantity of spruce tips.
Put everything in a pot; stir over low heat until the mixture reaches a rolling boil. Simmer 5 minutes or longer.
Step 4: Steep
Remove pot from heat. Cover. Allow to steep until completely cool (or longer, for stronger spruce flavor).
Step 5: Strain
Pour over a cheesecloth to strain out solid spruce pieces.
You can save the solid pieces and eat them as candy!
Step 6: Enjoy!
Consume it however you like it! This link has a lot of good spruce tip recipes: http://medcookingalaska.blogspot.com/2008/06/how-to-harvest-spruce-tips-with-recipes.html
You can also store it for up to 4 months refrigerated in an airtight container.