White Spruce is found on well drained soil on south facing gentle slopes and along the edges of rivers and lakes. Black Spruce grows on north facing slopes and in lowlands that are underlain by permafrost. Sitka Spruce grows in coastal areas. Collect the new, bright green, soft growth on the tips of well established tree branches in late spring. Test for juiciness by pinching them – there is only about a three week span when the needles are at their best. They can stored in the refrigerator in an open container or frozen for later use. Spruce tip tea is a nice spring tonic when combined with honey, a few whole cloves, nutmeg, grated orange peel, and stirred with a cinnamon stick.
Spruce tip jelly (approximately 5 cups)
9 cups cleaned spruce tips (remove brown bud hulls)
4 cups sugar
1 package powdered pectin
Place spruce tips in a large pan and fill to about an inch below the spruce tips. Cover and boil for one hour. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 more hours. Scoop out spruce tips, cool, and strain remaining juice through a jelly bag. Place 3 cups of juice in a saucepan and add the pectin, stirring until dissolved. Heat over high heat until it holds a full rolling boil while stirring. Add sugar all at once and bring it back up to a boil for about one minute stirring constantly. Remove from heat, skim off foam, and pour jelly into sterilized jelly jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the mouths of the jars before sealing with canning lids, then process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes.