spruce tip jelly

For millennia, the people who live in this area have used the local conifers as a food source. Tips, cones and needles are edible and quite delicious when prepared well. Pine is the strongest and most acquired taste of the conifers with many likening the flavour to cleaning products. The spruces offer a more subdued and nuanced flavour and this recipe is one of my favourites.

I live in Dalhousie (Calgary, Alberta), and there are plenty of well established conifers and lilacs in the area which makes urban foraging an easy and sustainable adventure. Walking around the neighbourhood, I was able to collect enough spruce tips for several batches of spruce tip jelly. Foraging this delicious delicacy takes a thoughtful approach as an aggressive harvest could stunt a year’s worth of growth for the tree, but foraging several trees should not have an impact on any of them.

Peonies and lilacs can also be substituted for the spruce tips in this recipe with a much longer steeping time (12 hours). Make sure you wash your peony blooms carefully and use a fine sieve to ensure no critters make it into your jelly. This year I added some chilli peppers to some of the jars, as spicy peony jelly makes an interesting addition to my charcuterie boards. I’ve added a half cup of cabernet sauvignon to a batch as well, white fruity wines can be added instead of the robust reds.

Recipe by Arne Fulton, a semi-retired indigenous chef who loves suburban foraging for ingredients.

Spruce Tip Jelly

Wild spruce tips are foraged for their unique taste, then turned into an herbal jelly offering hints of lime. Delicious on a charcuterie board, this recipe requires five hours from start to finish.


  • 2-3 cups washed spruce tips
  • 6 cups water
  • 2-4 cups sugar, amount required is to your taste and how sweet you like it
  • 1 pkg pectin
  • 1 pea-sized ball of butter or margarine (to prevent foaming and boiling over)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh preferably


  • Boil water and pour over cleaned spruce tips. Ensure all tips are covered. Allow to steep for 4 hours. The liquid may not be a palatable colour at this point but don't worry, good things happen later on.
  • Strain the spruce-tip water into your boiling pot. Gently press the tips to obtain as much liquid as possible without squishing them too much.
  • Bring the spruce tip water to a boil, add sugar, pectin and butter. Return to a hard boil. Add lemon juice. Return the liquid to a rolling boil. Cook the jelly until it is above 105 C (220 F). Experienced jelly makers can use other techniques to determine the consistency of their jelly such as the spoon test or the ice-water test.
  • Process or store as desired. For canning instructions, follow steps 2-5 on Savour Calgary's Pickled Carrots recipe.