The two most common coniferous trees in Sweden: Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Norway spruce (Picea abies) both have edible parts. While in spring you will be interested in young shoots and male and female flowers (cones), but in winter the needles will be your treasure. 

DON’T MISTAKE WITH …

The deadly poisonous yew that has soft needles,  red “berries” instead of regular cones, needles when crushed don’t have a strong pleasant scent like spruce.

 In addition, it is worth knowing that spruce is poisonous to dogs and cats.

NOTES ON PICKING

Choose a clean area to collect pine or spruce needles, as both of the trees are good in absorbing and storing pollution from the air in their needles. The most valuable are needles in their first year of life, which will be brighter than older ones. 

EDIBLE PARTS

in winter: needles

in spring: young shoots, young meal and female cones.

NUTRITIONAL VALUE AND EFFECT

In winter the needles of pine and spruce are record high  in vitamin C. In our native flora in terms of vitamin C content, they are second only to rose hips. 

In addition,  they contain vitamin A, potassium, calcium and magnesium. The needles has a disinfecting and cleansing effect on the respiratory tract and stimulates digestion.

In winter the needles of pine and spruce are record high  in vitamin C. In our native flora in terms of vitamin C content, they are second only to rose hips. They will also have a disinfecting and cleansing effect on the respiratory tract and stimulating effect on digestion. The needles from both trees can be used in a similar way. 

NEEDLES TEA

Pick the needles clean off the branch.  Chop them up into smaller pieces, this will help to extract more goodness. You want to have around 2-3 tablespoons of needles per each 0,5l of your tea. Put your needles in a pot or mug and  pour over hot but not boiling water (preferably around 80 ° C). Cover the pot and let it steep for about 20-30 minutes. I like to make my needle tea in  thermos where it can brew longer and stay warm. Other recipes recommend boiling needles, but that will result in a strong bitter tea with not much vitamin C left, as boiling breaks down vitamin C.

GREEN POWDER FROM NEEDLES

Dry pine or spruce branches at room temperature or in a dehydrator in a temperature below 50 °C. Remove needles and grind them into powder in a coffee grinder or stationary blender. If your blender is not super sturdy as mine is, you may need to sift your powder in a sieve with fine mesh to  remove tough fibers that will be left. 

I use this powder as a vitamin C supplement – 1 tablespoon per day, sprinkled on my morning porridge or as a seasoning, it also works good as spice, try rolling date balls in it or sprinkle on baked root vegetables or beetroot salad.