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Spruce or Fir Tip Syrup

spruce tip syrup recipe

Photo by Hank Shaw

Ever eat a tree? I know, I sound like Euell Gibbons. But really, you can eat the fresh growing tips of spruce or fir trees in any number of ways. My favorite is steeped in a simple syrup. The syrup smells like a pine forest, tastes a little citrusy — moreso if you add lemon juice — and adds a wonderful woodsy note to glazed pheasant, grouse or chicken.

Spruce tip syrup is even better mixed with ice cold water, carbonated or no, and a hint of lime or lemon juice. And it makes a fascinating cocktail mixed with gin.

To gather spruce or fir tree tips, look in springtime for the light-colored ends of the trees: These are the new growth shoots from the tree. Older shoots get too resinous to be very tasty. Work your way around the tree and pick from scattered places so you don’t damage the tree — and never pick the top of a young tree, or you can possibly stunt its future growth.

This syrup should be kept in the fridge, where it should last about 4 months.

Makes 1 pint.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes, plus several hours of passive steeping time

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups fir or spruce tips, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)

 __________

  1. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a lidded pot, stirring to make sure all the sugar is absorbed.
  2. When it hits a boil, turn off the heat. Stir in the spruce tips, cover the pot and leave to cool. The longer you steep the syrup, the stronger spruce flavor you’ll get. I let it steep overnight.
  3. Strain the syrup through cheesecloth, add lemon juice (if using) to taste and bottle.

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32 responses to “Spruce or Fir Tip Syrup”

  1. Cranbery Jam

    […] From the same cook, a walk-in-the-woods syrup. Spruce or fir tip syrup, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. […]

  2. Marni Zimmerman

    Any reason why one couldn’t use young hemlock tips instead of fir or spruce?

  3. Molly

    Could I process this in canning jars to store longer than 4 months?

  4. Jules

    Hahaha, that was a joke with the Hemlocks, Hank. Those things will kill you in no time. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. David Eger

    Jules, the conifer hemlock is a completely different plant from the deadly water hemlock. Buds or tips from the hemlock tree are not poisonous.

  6. Andrew Fenn

    There is no reason why this could not be processed in a canning jar, just hot fill it and keep the headspace small.

  7. Danica

    I am so glad I stumbled on to your website. You have the most amazing wholesome food recipes I have ever come across.
    My mom use to make a ‘cough’ syrup from the spring shoots of fir trees. Pack down your shoots into a ‘mason’ jar, put in about 1/2 cup of sugar and fill the rest of it up with either vodka or whiskey. Make sure that the shoots are completely submerged under the alcohol.
    Rotate the jar every other day x 5 months, keeping it in a cool dark place. Then strain thhis concoction into another jar and store in your cupboard or fridge. This is the best ‘cough’ syrup that I ever use. Not only does it clear the cough but reduces the phlegm immensely. And it tastes really good too.

  8. anondo

    Could you use Cedar or Pine needles instead of spruce or fir?

  9. danya caceres

    Hi. trying to make syrup from Douglas Fir and Scots Pine. If you collect small tips where the needles are still attached the soft wooody tip of the branch, do you need to strip the needles off the soft wood? Or is it safe to leave attached and pour over the hot syrup and citric acid? This time of year in Scotland the tips are soft and seeds/cones only 1/4 inch.

  10. Frank morel

    Would redwood tips be suitable or too turpentine tasting?

  11. Sylvia

    Have you tried freezing tips to make cordial later?

  12. Elise

    My spruce tip recipe says to use tips that haven’t begun to get woody, otherwise they’d taste like turpentine. I suppose if you got any tips before then, they’d be good!

  13. Peter

    We just came across people gathering young pine tips in an Austrian wood. They said they use them to make “Mollach”. Ever heard of it?

  14. Kate Scott

    I love the medicinal liquor recipe Danica, I’m a medical herbalist from the Uk!

  15. Vojt?ch Cukor

    Would you share with us your gin cocktail ratio, please?

  16. Vojt?ch Cukor

    Thanks, tke green shoots are just beginning to show up on the spruces here. Ill try your method.

  17. A Druid’s Web Log – Spring has Bloomed! | Ellen Evert Hopman

    […] Spruce or fir tip syrup (try making this with spring growth on hemlocks, white pine, too) […]

  18. Forage Blue Spruce in May – folkhomestead
  19. Brenda

    Hello Hank,
    I made 2 batches of Fir Tip Syrup 2 weeks ago . I poured the strained liquid (boiled to 220 degrees F) into sterilized bottles and sealed BUT did not hot water bath process after. They have been stored sealed in a cool place.There is a cloudy layer at the surface of each bottle of syrup. I have made rose petal syrup, lavender syrup and fir tip jelly and have been 100% successful. I opened one and tasted. There was no bubbling or mould. It tastes fine.
    Wondering if this has happened to anyone else.
    My plan is to re filter with a finermull cotton double layer jelly bag, re process to 220 degrees F and bottle, seal and hot bath. Insights anyone?
    PS… picked the young fir tips during a very heavy fir pollen season this spring.

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  21. Brenda Webster

    Hello Again!
    In my last comment planned to correct the cloudy apearance ofb my Fir Tip Syrup… I refiltered all of it through a double layer of super fine organic mull cotton, brought it up to 220 degrees F and re bottled it! Then into a hot bath for 10 minutes… There is no evidence that a surface layer of pollen appears. My experience with heavy fir pollen this year has convinced me to quadruple wash even the cleanest appearing wild harvests!

  22. Judi Castille

    Just for readers we make Pine and Fir Syrups at http://www.ionsyrup.com. It’s lovely on cheeses, desserts, salmon, glazing and marinading. Very versatile product.

  23. Francois Bureau

    hey guys, I have a quick question, Iv been making spruce soda for a while…its the same as syrup almost, simmer spruce in water for 1 hour, add sugar and ferment for a couple days…. but every time i do that the first time around the taste is so bitter I have to use the the spruce again thats been simmered in a new batch of water and the second batch comes out smooth, so when I make the syrup it won’t come out bitter the first time around?

  24. Benefit of Spruce Tips ~ Mountain Girl Camp

    […] Spruce Tip Syrup (great on grouse and other poultry) […]

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