Last year during my visit to Quadra Island I picked up a jar of Spruce Tip Jelly that was amazing. Since then I haven’t stopped thinking about trying to make some myself and what other ways you could use spruce tips. Jen has come up with one way of using Spruce Tips that I think you will enjoy! It would make a fantastic gift.
Spruce tips are wonderful little things, they are high in Vitamin C and filled with warming oils that among other things, make a wonderful tea, especially if you are dealing with sore throats or coughing. They are also antimicrobial and immune stimulating, and clear up infections fantastically. Use this salve for skin rashes, cold sores, cracked skin, and as an antibacterial ointment type products. My kids LOVE using it on bug bites of all kinds, and actually refer to it as “magic cream.” When I add wintergreen essential oil, it makes a great chest rub, is perfect for rubbing on the temples for headaches. It can also relieve menstrual cramps, and joint aches, and I gave some to my mom to help with arthritis in her fingers.
Collecting Spruce Tips: When you are collecting spruce tips, you are just collecting the new ends. Not the hard needles that are already grown, but the new spring buds. You want to get them when they are light green, and soft. Aim for when the papery brown coverings have just fallen off, and the tips are about 1/2 inch to 1 1/2 inch long. Since this is the new growth of the tree, try to collect evenly around the tree and collect from a few different trees to help it maintain growth balance.
After Collection: Spread Spruce tips out on a cookie sheet and sort out anything that isn’t a tip. Let them sit for a couple of hours to encourage any bugs to leave. Do not wash them, since leftover water from washing will cause the oil to spit.
Making a Salve: Making salve seems daunting at first, but it’s actually really easy! To make salve, you are melting oil into beeswax, and letting it cool – about 2 tablespoons of beeswax to a cup of oil. To test how the salve will come out, drip a little onto a cold plate and see how it firms up. Adjust to the right consistency by adding either more oil for a softer salve, or more beeswax for a harder one.
From there you can get fancy by trying different kinds of oils. I mainly use grape seed oil, or extra virgin olive oil, but you can try any kind of oil you find! I love to use apricot or almond oil for diaper rash salve.
Once the beeswax has melted into the oil and you take it off the heat, you can add essential oils, for their healing properties, or simply for the scent. I love lavender and tea tree oil together. I use that for diaper rash salve, and winter skin issues, and have a friend who swears by it for her daughters eczema.
To make Spruce Tip Salve – After collecting and resting spruce tips place in a pot and add enough oil to cover them completely. Heat (not boil, just slow simmer) them until the oil takes on the essential oils from the spruce tips – about an hour for all the good spruce stuff to transfer into the oil. You should be able to smell the spruce in the oil. Expect it to smell more like rosemary and citrus instead of Christmas tree.
You can also add spruce resin to the oil which will give it a stronger pine smell and healing properties, it won’t change the consistency. With added resin it can feel “warmer” during use..
Then strain it through a jelly bag and hang the bag of tips over the pot overnight. In the morning, heat it up again and add in the beeswax – 2 tablespoons of beeswax to a cup of oil.
Pour finished salve into small jars, I prefer small mason jars, but any jar will work including old salsa jars. You want a wider mouthed jar so you can get your fingers into the bottom of it as you use it up.
Guest post by Jen Wadleigh