capturing Finnish spruce in a bottle and the unexpected tandem of lovage and calamansi

young spruce seems to be the epitome of the early Nordic summer scent.

nothing could be more satisfying than walking through the forest during the height of the spring-summer season in the Nordics. it’s just beaming with life. the euphony of nature is too beautiful, it’s as if it had been practicing during the harsh cold winter months.

birds singing everywhere, winds orchestrating the rustling of the leaves and streams whistling its gentle contribution to this one harmonious hymn you can hear whenever you enter these small natural sanctuaries.

for cooks like me, adding to all this excitement is knowing that beautiful produce will abound soon enough. sporadic markets fill up many parks and other public areas where they get to sell their seasonal harvest (if not their own, it’s most likely their localities’, which is another wonder of cooperative-operated farms).

something that’s not sold on these markets is the ubiquitous young spruce. so abundant during this season that selling it would appear like a ripoff against Mother Nature.

here’s some young spruce i gathered during my morning walk last May.

wanting to preserve this fleeting summer scent, i made a very light syrup in which to infuse such fragrant bounty.

here’s the recipe:

150gms young spruce

150gms white sugar

500ml water

  • simply make your light syrup by dissolving your sugar (no heat necessary)

  • lightly crushed your spruce by rubbing it through your fingers, then add it to your syrup.

  • let it infuse at least a week (i have mine infusing for about a year)

to use this larder item,

for sweet: i use it as a macerating liquid for some of my fresh fruits or even add it as a bright note in my fruit smoothie.

for savory: mix this with your preferred amount of soy sauce and some minced ginger. use as a base for a pan sauce for pork or even as a glazing liquid when you barbeque.

Another pleasant scents this season is wild lovage. a friend of mine (who also gave me the rhubarb last time) also handed me a bunch from his garden.

one great way of extending and preserving fresh aromatic herbs (and spices) if i come across some is to simply make an oil-based condiment out of it. so for this, i threw the bunch in a blender along with some garlic, salt, pepper and Calamansi juice, that small citrus fruit (Philippine lime or calamondin). it turned out to be so much better than i expected since the rounded notes from lovage seems to benefit a lot from the sharp acidity and bright floral-ness of Calamansi.

to use this wonderful condiment, mix with your favorite salsa of choice or simply enjoy with some meaty roasted beef (perfect with Filipino-style Beef Bistek)

that’s it for this week!
i hope you get to pick some spruce for yourself, and maybe some wild lovage too.
will be posting more pics on my Instagram. :)