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Edible Conifers

Words by Kinfolk Team Photographs by Laura Dart Styling by Joanna Han & Jen Vitale

How can you keep pine needles alive? Use these harvesting tips and recipes to make the most of the fragrant edible parts of conifer trees all season long. 

Spruce and pine are typically associated with the wintertime holidays, but the fragrant edible parts of conifer trees are in season and ready for harvest in early spring. Use these harvesting tips and recipes to hold on to the foresty fragrance for just a little longer before saying goodbye until next winter.

Start with the trees in lower-elevation spots with plenty of exposure to sun where the tips will develop more quickly. The edible parts are the young, green, tender tips that emerge from brown papery casings (the hard, darker green matured parts will taste too strong and resinous). Once you’ve harvested tips, you can use them in an abundance of ways:

Spruce Tip Vinegar
Fill a glass jar with spruce tips and apple cider vinegar, and make sure sure to cover the tips completely. Wrap wax paper over the top of the jar and place in a cool dark place. Leave for two to four weeks. Try over salads or soaked into sourdough for sandwiches.

Conifer Sugar
Combine equal parts conifer needles with equal parts sugar. Chop in food processor. Sprinkle on buttered toast or replace the sugar in shortbread or other cookies.

Pine Needle Tea
Pour water just under boiling temperature over needles and steep until your desired brew strength is reached. Chop needles in half to release oils for a stronger fragrance.

For more inspiration, take a look at Home Uses for the Evergreen Tree from Kinfolk Issue 6 and listen to this excellent interview on “Splendid Table.”

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