In a nutshell: Dried sweet fern leaves have distinct aromatic notes, including honey, eucalyptus and pine.
Sweet Fern, or Comptonia (Comptonia peregrina) is a plant that closely resembles a fern and is often seen growing near blueberries. It grows best in sandy areas as well as clearings made by forest fires. In America, sweet fern is sometimes used, in different forms, by First Nations to relieve cold symptoms, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and stimulant qualities.
Dried sweet fern leaves have distinct aromatic notes, including honey, eucalyptus and pine. They are also rich in tannins. It adds a special touch to pork or chicken, particularly when blended with other herbs. Fatty fish like salmon or mackerel are fantastic with Sweet Fern. Just one pinch will make a preserve, particularly apple or pear, really shine. Sweet fern also makes a fabulous herbal tea!
Our sweet fern comes from Quebec’s boreal forests; it’s hand harvested with care not far from Girardville, in the northern part of the Lac Saint-Jean region. After the leaves are plucked in three separate harvests during the summer, new buds are gathered in August, at their peak flavour. This process ensures the harvested buds are at their maximum flavour.
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.