Christmas trees aren’t good eating

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up a jar of spruce tips from our local market forager guy.

Spruce tip

I think they’re one of those things that seem so pretty and different that you forget to imagine what they might taste like.

But if you think about it. I mean, if you really sit down and think about what a spruce tree might taste like. You’d be right.

I planned to use them as a garnish for Martha Stewart’s salmon mousse cups that I was going to bring to my friend’s Christmas party as an appetizer. That was, until I tasted them.

They might work very well as a festive garnish in a martini.

I hate vodka and have no martini glasses because I hate vodka so pretend this is a martini and not water, K?

I hate vodka and have no martini glasses because I hate vodka as I just mentioned so pretend this is a martini and not water in a flute, K?

Or as a mustache

Spruce tip mustache

Or as a clementine toupee


Just whatever you do, don’t eat them.

The following are the only times you should ever consider eating the tip of a spruce tree:

1. If you haven’t had access to toothpaste for 16 months. If it’s only been 14.5 months, it still isn’t worth it, so just hang tight and hope for a Colgate windfall.

2. If you’re trying to hit on a lumberjack.

3. If you live so far north that you have no access to a bottle of mescal, and you’re looking for a stand-in for an alcohol motivated worm eating challenge. (Although then an earthworm might be a more palatable stand-in).

4. If you’re trying to hit on a squirrel.

5. If you are Kenny and/or Spenny, have just lost the competition, and are required to do the humiliation.

6. If you happen to be a blue jay.

7.  If you have a very bad cold and can’t taste a single thing, but wish to gross out someone who has tasted spruce tips before by wolfing them down in front of them. (This becomes an attractive option if there is potential for a dare payout. But you’d better be very stuffed up).

8. If you’re trying to create the illusion that you’ve just cleaned your house with pine sol by becoming a human air freshener. (But you must really, really hate cleaning for this one)

9. If you’ve run out of syrup of ipecac and have chugged some actual pine sol. The taste difference in this case would be negligible, and the desired result of vomiting would most certainly be achieved.

10. If you’re making shortbread cookies.


That’s right, I had actually drafted this post up until point #9 yesterday when I made one more hail Mary Google and found this recipe for spruce tip shortbread cookies from Alaska. I was just hanging around my kitchen waiting for the aforementioned party (sidebar – my husband said “who goes out starting at 9?” and I told him he was officially old) so I decided to throw together this very easy recipe and bring the cookies along.

And I really liked them! Shockingly, when the spruce tips were surrounded by butter and sugar they were much tamer, and really did taste like Christmas in the form of a cookie. I might even make more, because what else would I do with the remaining spruce tips? I’d say point #10 is way more attractive than 1-9. If you want to taste Christmas in a cookie. the Alaska recipe also includes instructions on how to harvest them from your very own backyard, although it looks like this is best done in the Spring.

Here is the recipe, painstakingly paraphrased and re-typed. Merry Christmas.

Spruce Tip Shortbread Cookies

Makes about 12 3″ cookies, but I did mix it up with smaller ones as well

(consider experimenting with other Christmasy herbs, like maybe thyme or rosemary or lavender, if you can’t find spruce tips)

  • 1/4C spruce tips
  • 1/4C sugar
  • 1C flour
  • 1/2C cold butter, cut into 1/2″ squares

Directions: Preheat to 300. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add spruce tips and sugar to food processor and whiz until very fine.

Spruce tips

Add flour. Whiz. Add butter, and whiz until just doughy but still crumbly. Don’t let it become a big ball completely. Here’s my pic of when I removed mine to a piece of parchment on the counter.


Roll the dough with a rolling pin until about 1/4″ thick. Use cookie cutters or a round glass to cut out your cookies and then gently lift and place them on the parchment lined baking sheet.


Ball up the dough that didn’t become cookies trying not to touch it too much, roll it out again, and cut out more circles.

Cookie circles

Bake the cookies for 23-26 minutes until golden but not browned.

Results: It was a Christmas miracle that disgusting spruce tips made these cookies even more delicious than if they were plain. Rating: 4 Yums

Spruce tip cookies

Teaser: This is one of two seasonal dangerous foods I have coming up. Stay tuned for the next surprise delicacy I’ll be pawning off on holiday guests! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you all!


  1. Leave a Reply

    December 23, 2013

    I like the moustache the best 🙂

  2. Leave a Reply

    Jackie Dale
    December 24, 2013

    A-ha! Now I know what was in those shortbreads I found in a random tupperware and was eating yesterday! We were trying to figure out the herbal look and could not quite determine what it was. Thankfully, they were not “special” cookies left behind by someone I did not know and they were yours! Phew

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      December 24, 2013

      Can I point out that you thought there was a possibility they were “special” cookies and you ate them right up? 🙂

  3. Leave a Reply

    Jackie Dale
    December 24, 2013

    Oh, and tell your hubby he did not need to show up fashionably late at 9pm. Party started at 8:30 and we were raring to go… Any earlier and we may have been even more hung over from too many libations

  4. Leave a Reply

    Jackie Dale
    December 24, 2013

    Lastly, those spruce tips may still be useful in our martini glasses 🙂

  5. Leave a Reply

    Trevor aka The Burger Nerd
    December 26, 2013

    I have to say I’m always impressed when I check out your website. I always seem to learn something new and unique. The cookies look like they turned out amazing.

    I might just have to see if there is a burger’ish type of way to utilize the spruce tips. As always, thanks for sharing your fun insights and interesting ingredients.

    Also, hope you and your family are having a wonderful Holiday Season! 🙂

    • Leave a Reply

      Ann Allchin
      December 26, 2013

      Thanks! I will be crazy impressed if you find a second way to make them delicious (but I wouldn’t be surprised because you are very innovative in the burger department!) Hope you’re enjoying some R&R too!

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