Pickled Spruce Buds

There are generally two kinds of people when it comes to foraging. There are those who prefer to forage among the safety and sanitized rows of their local grocery stores and then there are those who are willing to go the extra mile…or two outside of their comfort zone.  As a child growing up on the family farm my ‘foraging’ usually included pinching baby carrots and sweet peas from my mother’s garden but as I spent a lot of time outside in the bush or marshy area near our homestead, I also did a some wild foraging.

In the summer I picked tiny little wild strawberries found in the sunny ditches along our roadway and if I was really lucky I would find a dewberry or two. I remember the look on my grandma’s face when I brought her 4 cups of wild strawberries (which had taken me the better part of a day to find) so that she could make me a wild strawberry pie. I will never forget the taste of that pie either, the concentrated strawberry flavours were so strong that we all ended up with our mouths going a touch numb. In those same ditches were small ground cover plants with large heart shaped singular leaves growing on top of a stem. I found that if I broke the stem, there was a fibrous string that I could remove and chew and it tasted like mint. I don’t even remember how I discovered it but now that I can google it I’ve found that I was eating Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum).  Other than picking berries with my mom, auntie, and grandma that was the extent of my foraging. I’m kicking myself for not asking my grandparents more questions about plants that they grew up eating and using, though I do know that they would pick and boil shave grass into a poultice for sore feet. One of our retired neighbours (a great uncle by marriage) was a mycologist who wrote a book on Fungi of the Boreal Saskatchewan Forests during his retirement. I really regret not ever going on a mushroom forage with him but I was young then and really not much of a mushroom eater.sprucetips3

More recently I’ve taken to studying my urban surroundings for edibles. I would still love to learn how to forage for the most prized morels, ramps, and stinging nettles but for today I am happy to post about these lovely spruce buds I found in my front yard of all places. Does this mean these spruce buds are ‘hyper local’? Hubby and I kept a close eye on our front spruce this spring and I almost gave up until last week when he pointed out the window and said, “It’s time!”. He picked from a ladder and I picked from the safety of the ground until our neighbour came outside to ask us what the hell we were doing. We explained and he seemed to be okay with it, even mentioning that a lady comes to pick the rose hips from the bushes near his cabin every fall. I do think that everyone has a bit of a natural tendency to forage, that it comes from a deeper place within us and stems from when humans began as foragers and hunters. Enough about human evolution, lets get back to cooking! 028

Making these pickled spruce buds couldn’t have been easier. What really takes the most time is cleaning all the brown papery wrapping off of the young buds. Once that job is done, just pack them into clean jars, pour in a boiling brine (I made mine out of 1 cup water: 1/2 cup cider vinegar: 2 tsp salt), cover, and process in a hot water bath for 10-12 minutes. sprucetips2

Of course, you don’t have to pickle them. You could just make a simple syrup out of them and use them in a gin and tonic with smashed blueberries OR you could bake them in a pie, also with blueberries!blueberrysprucecocktail


  1. tinywhitecottage

    I love this! I can’t imagine what pickled spruce buds would taste like. You were able to harvest a good amount too. I’m so intrigued.

    1. dishnthekitchen

      yes, not too bad a harvest for sure. I would still like to go out and get some for freezing too.

  2. foodisthebestshitever

    Great story B. I remeber when we were kids we would find these little yellow flowers, rip the stem off and suck the nectar from the base of the flower and it was awesome sweet/sour goodness. I wish I learnt more about foraging too…

    1. dishnthekitchen

      I think the kids learned to eat those from their Aussie friends. I bet you could easily find someone to take you out foraging. There are some damn cool edible things in the bushlands

  3. Jennifer Andrews

    Wow! I’ve never heard of this, but I’d try anything. I’m from Northern Ontario and we’re all about foraging! Mostly things like fiddleheads in the spring and wild blueberries in August. My Grandma used to make us Saskatoon berry pie with berries she picked and it was the best pie I’ve ever eaten.

    1. dishnthekitchen

      yep. Saskatoon pie…and true wild blueberry pie too. So good!

  4. dedy oktavianus pardede

    never had this spruce buds before, tempting to try…

    1. dishnthekitchen

      well…this is the time of year to do it! Hopefully you can still find some that are edible 🙂

  5. Carole

    I would love to tryI these – I have never heard eating them!

    1. dishnthekitchen

      I haven’t had them pickled…yet! looking forward to it though. Always into trying new things.

    2. dishnthekitchen

      Are there still some new spruce buds where you are? Give them a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  6. chef mimi

    How fascinating! I LOVE that last photo!!!

    1. dishnthekitchen

      You know, it’s the strangest thing. I get the best light on my garbage can….

  7. In My Kitchen – June 2015 | Dish 'n' the kitchen

    […] in the kitchen. Hubby and I got quite a good yield of vibrant coloured spruce buds which I later pickled with cider vinegar.Then I got inspired by our local annual Lilac Festival to create a Lilac Cocktail. I made a Lilac […]

  8. Brittany at I Love Vegan

    Beatiful photos and a very neat idea. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Daily Delivery Blog

    Reblogged this on Daily Delivery and commented:
    Pickle, Spice and Everything Nice

  10. Daily Delivery Blog

    Loved this simple and superb recipe so much that we had to reblog it! 🙂

    1. dishnthekitchen

      Great, thanks for the re blog!

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