in a nutshell: These delicate spruce tips are used in Canada for the popular Spruce beer and increasingly by adventurous chefs in their recipes.
Black spruce (Picea mariana) is found across Canada. Its flavour has been familiar in Quebec for centuries- it’s still the main ingredient in Spruce Beer, a favourite tipple of the province since the foundation of New France. Black Spruce syrup is also a traditional remedy for colds and sore throats.
The buds have the resinous aroma common to evergreens, and present a range of citrus flavours as well. They are also less intense and less bitter than mature needles. The flavour of these young buds pairs nicely with citrus, like lemon and orange, or even cedar, in desserts. It can also be used with wild game, particularly in a blend with juniper, pepper, and our Labrador tea. Try Black Spruce also with roast lamb or chicken.
About Épices de Cru
Épices de Cru began in 1982 as a catering partnership between Philippe and Ethné de Vienne. Their mission was a kind of “cooking pot anthropology:” learning the secrets of family cooking around the world and applying these techniques to the needs of hungry Montrealers. The secret, they learned, was spices. Over the last two decades, Philippe and Ethné have searched for the world’s best spices, accompanied by their children, Marika and Arik. The de Viennes believe in direct sourcing spices: visiting growing regions, spending time with growers, and developing personal relationships that last decades. In 2004, they officially opened their first spice shop in Montreal’s fantastic Jean Talon market– it’s since become a mecca for foodies from all over the world. I first visited in 2008 and have been buying and using their spices on a regular basis ever since that first exciting visit. They steadfastly maintain that they do nothing original, only facilitating the exchange of culinary common sense from one place to another. But, what they do is simply quite brilliant - by providing us with the finest quality ingredients, and their superb spice mixes, we can all experiment with unusual spices and recreate delicious recipes from around the world.