Spruce shoot syrup

Spruce shoot syrup recipe

Time for some fun in the forest

For almost a year I have jealously looked at my friend Tina’s jar of spruce shoot syrup in their kitchen window and I swear – it’s teasing me on purpose. But that has come to an end now that it’s finally the big spruce shoots season!

Spruce shoots is not only stunningly beautiful and soft like tiny guinea pigs. They also contain vitamin C and if you ask those who see the forest as their private garden you will find out that they are good at basically everything.

It may sound insanely geeky to head out to gather a bag or two, but it is so amazingly good that you drop all such thoughts as soon as you can smell the first handful of your homemade spruce shoot syrup. And imagine how impressed your friends will be when you next time there’s pancakes instead of the usual maple syrup introduces this piece of freshness.

Although it is 15 years since I, during a military survival camp, spent a few nights on the island of Utö looking for basically anything that was possible to eat (it all ended with a forest-fire of one hectare, but that’s another story) I still remember with a little anxiety the cattail-shots which we nibbled on with a cup of tea made of birch shoots.

It can be part of the reason why I did not explore the world of spruce shoots years ago, but now is the time!

Important to remember is that although in some countries your free to gather as much as you can, in most places you have to ask the landowner for permission and never take top shoots.

I collected a bag, went home and poured them out on a white towel so any bugs got the chance to dodge the upcoming sugarbath and then I did this:


Birch shoot syrup

Time: 30 minutes of collecting, 10 minutes of assembling and then a bit of waiting.

  • 1 bag of fresh birch shoots (or as much as you can gather)
  • 1-2 lemons (organic!)
  • Caster sugar (or raw sugar that’s been blended into finer crystals)
  1. Use small jars or all sugar may not dissolve. Make sure it’s completely clean and dry.
  2. Add a layer of sugar, then a couple of slices of orange, then some birch shoots.
  3. After that add layers of alternately sugar and birch shoots.
  4. Place somewhere sunny and turn it upside down once every day.
  5. When all sugar have dissolved strain the syrup to remove the birch shoots and store in a cool and dark place (NOT in the fridge).
  6. Enjoy with pancakes, ice cream or a piece of toast.