A Few Tips on Spruce

While I realize it’s a “thing” to post a blog sharing other people’s blog posts – 25 Amazing Ways to Use Spruce Tips!, for example – they’ve always seemed like cheating to me. Maybe someday I’ll run out of my own content to share and resort to those tactics, but not today.

I’ve actually tried cooking with spruce tips several times this week, and the first “tip” I will share is that heat diminishes the flavor significantly. If your recipe showcases the intense pine/citrus notes of spruce, add it near the end or once the dish has finished cooking. One author mentioned in passing that their favorite use for spruce tips was on baked salmon, so even without a recipe I decided to give it a try.

Spruce Seasoned Basked Salmon
Spruce Seasoned Basked Salmon

I baked the salmon at 400 for 10 minutes, added the spruce tips, and then cooked for an additional 10 minutes. The spruce tip seasoning was still detectable, though as I mentioned much less intense. I also sauteed some tips in butter with asparagus and milkweed shoots for a side!

A very spruce-y meal!
A very spruce-y meal!

(The sauteed tips completely disintegrated by the time the asparagus and milkweed were done cooking, I definitely would recommend adding them just for the last minute or two of cooking!)

I also tried – sigh – a spruce-tip-seasoned dessert. For some reason, like rhubarb, spruce has been primarily associated with sweets rather than savory dishes. There are so many recipes to choose from! Since I have homegrown rhubarb to use up, I liked the idea of this Rhubarb and Spruce Tip Galette. But if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I don’t eat grains so off I went to find a low carb / primal crust that I could adapt!

This isn’t a low carb / primal food blog so I won’t bore you with all the details. The short story is that I used this keto cream cheese danish recipe, but instead of fresh raspberries, I filled it with a mixture of strawberries (also homegrown), rhubarb and spruce tips sprinkled with Swerve to create a sauce.

Strawberry, rhubarb and spruce tip sauce
Strawberry, rhubarb and spruce tip sauce

Well. It was bit liquidy.

And perhaps too heavy for the crust.

Which meant the bottom of the pastry ended up very soggy.

So, I put it back in the oven on my pizza stone, hoping that would crisp the bottom nicely.

Only the pastry disintegrated when I tried using my pizza peel to get it back out of the oven.

Which is why I only have this photo to share, instead of fancy food photography shots of the pastry sliced, plated and arranged artfully.

Low Carb Cream Cheese Pastry with Strawberry, Rhubarb and Spruce Filling
Low Carb Cream Cheese Pastry with Strawberry, Rhubarb and Spruce Filling

A tender and flaky crust indeed!

Despite the lack of structural integrity, the pastry itself was a pleasure to eat. Here again, the spruce lends a subtle complexity to the other flavors, rather than dominating them.

Last but certainly not least, I started a spruce tip alcohol infusion.

Spruce Tip Alcohol Infusion
Spruce Tip Alcohol Infusion

Unlike some of my previous alcohol infusions, I started with a modest sized batch and plan to check the flavor regularly as it develops rather than just, you know, forgetting about it and ending up with an undrinkable disaster. Unlike the recipes above where the tips are cooked, I hope the infusion preserves or even enhances the spruce flavor.

What “tips” do you have to share for foraging and using spruce?

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