by Ellen Zachos
One of the easiest ways to enjoy the flavor of spruce tips is to infuse them in simple syrup, then use that syrup to make spruce tip ice cream or sorbet. It’s a refreshing and unusual way to end a meal: a dessert that embodies the flavor of northern New Mexico.
Learn how to forage your own Spruce Tips.
Spruce Tip Ice Cream
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup spruce tips
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
Combine water and sugar in a saucepan; heat over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Add the spruce tips and stir to submerge them in the syrup. Remove saucepan from heat, cover, and let sit overnight.
Strain off solids and measure the syrup; you should have 1 1/3 cups. Add cream to syrup and refrigerate mixture for at least four hours. Transfer the liquid to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you’d rather make a non-dairy spruce tip dessert, substitute water for the heavy cream (or half water, half ginger beer!), and make yourself a sorbet.
Older spruce needles are also high in vitamin C, but their flavor can be intensely resinous, and the texture of the older needles is stiff and sharp. If you like strong flavors, use them in applications where you’re not eating the actual tip, such as syrups and infusions. You may even reap a few medicinal benefits. Historically, spruce needle tea has been used to stave off scurvy, decongest lungs, and stimulate the respiratory system.