While the first vegetable that comes to mind from the mention of Yukon may be the Yukon Gold potato (which was actually developed in Guelph, Ontario), it’s actually spruce tips that captures the imagination of chefs and cooks in the area.
Every year, the first glimpse and taste of those soft, electric green baby spruce tips is an indication and a much-needed beacon of hope that spring has arrived.
Spruce tips are citrusy, wild edibles with a hint of resin, and many locals forage the new tree growth to infuse into both sweet and savoury dishes.
In fact, renowned Yukon chef, food columnist and author of The Boreal Gourmet: Adventures in Northern Cooking, Michele Genest swears by them.
“You can dry spruce tips, freeze them in resealable baggies, pickle them, candy them, turn them into oils, vinegars, jellies and syrups, and use them as an herb in everything from focaccia to pan-cooked grouse,” she shares on her website, The Boreal Gourmet.
The key to cooking them is to harvest them when they first begin to emerge from their brown papery casings while they’re still small and tender, so the timing will vary based on your location. If this is something you’d like to try yourself, keep in mind that spruce tips are a tree’s new growth, so pick sparingly to ensure the trees continue to grow and thrive.
Photo by Luke Jones on Flickr.