The poky needles of spruce, fir, and pine trees are not remotely appetizing, but the bright green sprouts on the branch tips are surprisingly tender and tasty. Often used to flavor jelly, tea, and beer, spruce tips have also started to show up on the menus of some of the world’s top restaurants, such as Noma. They are versatile and easy to use, but the biggest challenge is finding and harvesting them—if you don’t happen to have a spruce tree growing nearby, don’t be afraid to do some urban foraging for this recipe, like we did here in San Francisco.
Special equipment: You will need a very clean coffee or spice grinder for this recipe.
You will also need about 20 (8-inch) paper straws.
To fill the paper straws, you will need a couple of pieces of paper, to cover your work surface and make a funnel with—any kind of paper will do. Alternatives to a paper funnel are a No. 16 Open Star or No. 5 Round piping tip. You will also need a toothpick.
This recipe was featured as part of our Make Your Own Trixy Stix project for Halloween.
- 1Place the spruce tips in a clean coffee or spice grinder and grind into a fine powder. Add the sugar and pulse to combine. (The mixture will be moist.)
- 2Transfer the mixture to a plate or piece of parchment paper and spread into an even layer. Set aside uncovered in a cool, dry place until the sugar dries out completely, at least 6 hours or overnight.
- 3Return the mixture to the grinder. Pulse to break up any large pieces until the mixture is a fine powder.
- 4Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Pour the sugar powder into the strainer and sift it into the bowl, pressing against the powder with the back of a spoon to force it through the mesh. Return any larger bits left in the strainer to the grinder and process into a fine powder. Sift again and repeat with the grinding and sifting as needed until all of the sugar mixture is processed (you may have a few solids left to be discarded).
- 5Place a sheet of paper on a work surface. Have about 20 (8-inch) paper straws and a toothpick ready. Make a small funnel out of another piece of paper. (Make sure the tip fits into the end of the straws.) Alternatively, use a No. 16 Open Star or No. 5 Round piping tip.
- 6Fold up one end of a straw 1/4 inch. Fit the point of the funnel or piping tip into the open end of the straw. Holding the funnel or piping tip in place and working over the sheet of paper, spoon in about 1 1/4 teaspoons of the sugar mixture. Use the pointed end of the toothpick to poke the sugar mixture into the straw. Remove the funnel or piping tip and fold the open end of the straw down 1/4 inch to close. Repeat with the remaining straws and sugar.