Tag Archives: Foraging

Blue Spruce Ice Cream

**Ice cream maker needed for this recipe**

Spruce tips prime for picking!

Have you ever looked at a spruce tree and thought, “yummy, those needles look delicious!”?  If you haven’t, you might have that thought after trying this recipe.  Spruce tips give ice cream a very unique and elegant flavor, something unlike any other food I’ve ever had before.

Foraging for spruce tips is easy, but like all foraging, it needs to be timed just right.  The tips in these pictures were found in the middle of May in Minnesota.  Depending on weather, it will fluctuate slightly every year.  It’s easy to see when the tips are forming and ripe for picking.  From a distance, you will see an off-color at the tip of each branch compared to the rest of the tree .  As you get a closer look, you will look for a brown, papery film that is falling off some of the tips.  The tips should not be opened up very much and will feel much softer and pliable than the other needles, which are hard and spiky.  If it is not the right time of year for harvest, start noticing where the nearest spruce trees are located and store that in the back of your brain until spring.

Spruce trees are not native everywhere in this area, but they are often planted in yards for privacy, protection from the elements, and year-round greenery, which can make harvesting very convenient… especially if you have one in your own yard, like I do!  It’s not harmful for the tree to pick the tips, but you shouldn’t harvest all of them… which would be pretty difficult anyway unless you are 20 feet tall.  Any spruce tree can be used for this recipe, but according to those that have tried different types of spruce tips, they recommend Blue Spruce.  I’ve only tried Blue Spruce, but feel free to experiment with others and let me know what you think.

From a distance you will notice discolored tips at the end of each branch

Ingredients:
1 can coconut cream
1/2 cup honey
6 egg yolks
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup Blue Spruce tips

Method:

  1. Add everything except the Blue Spruce tips to a pan and heat until steaming, but not boiling. Whisk the entire time.
  2. Pour everything from the pan into a blender and add the spruce tips.
  3. Wait for everything to cool to room temperature before blending.
  4. After blending, pour the mixture through a fine strainer and into your ice cream maker and operate your ice cream maker and blend until desired consistency.  (The last time I made this recipe, I kept the spruce tips in.  It just gave a fluffier texture than regular ice cream, but still very delicious and I’ll do it again unless the tips aren’t extremely tender)
  5. Eat immediately or spoon the ice cream into single-serve size cups and put into freezer.
  6. When you want to eat the ice cream that has been frozen, remove and let sit out for 15 minutes before enjoying so the ice cream can soften to a more ice cream like consistency.  These 15 minutes seem like forever!

Spoon the ice cream into freezable container and freeze for later enjoyment

Fall Foraging

Walking my son up the driveway to meet the bus last week I was so appalled at what I saw….GARLIC MUSTARD. I won’t bore you with what this means for my little woodland – but in a nutshell garlic mustard is a very invasive, introduced plant that displaces good, native vegetation (think woodland wildflowers…threatened by a garlicky mustard monster!)

I couldn’t wait to tell my co-worker and fellow plant fanatic what I had found.  She chirpily replied “Well… at least you can eat it.”  Leave it Franny to look on the bright side, know more about plants than me and put humor into the morning.  I love her(:  “You can!?”  I replied.  Then after a few moments of thought – it made perfect sense: I love both garlic and mustard – how perfect!  Knowing this, I was much more motivated to deal with the small infestation in a more environmentally friendly way: pulling as opposed to using the highly “efficient” herbicides.

When I got home I spent 5 minutes pulling enough to add to a few salads.  I found the roots to be substantial, yet easy to pull.  The roots are also woody so once pulled need to be trimmed off.  After a total of 20 minutes pull time – I had removed every single plant and added nutrition to a week-worth of salads!  I love when I get eat “free greens” instead of buying the expensive organic packages in the grocery store.

Garlic Mustard: A terrestrial invasive=very bad for woodlands. BUT - very tasty in salads!

Garlic Mustard: A terrestrial invasive=very bad for woodlands. BUT – very tasty in salads!

The next day I tossed a combination of garlic mustard, kale and swiss chard for my salad.  I wouldn’t recommend a salad with straight garlic mustard because it does have a garlic-chive tone, that all alone could be overwhelming.

I added my favorite topping and was doubly satisfied knowing that I had helped my little woodland and was nourishing my body with wholesome – nutrient rich greens.

My very favorite salad contains:

3 Baby Kale, spinach, swiss chard, garlic mustard or any combination of them

Drizzle of Immune-Boosting Garlic Vinegrette

1-2 slices Grilled Eggplant

2 Fresh Button or Crimini Mushrooms, sliced

6-8 Grape Tomatoes Sliced

Fresh cracked pepper and coarse ground sea salt

Garlic mustard add a great hints of garlic, chivy flavor to most any salad

Garlic mustard add a great hints of garlic, chivy flavor to most any salad