Cough Remedy from Croatia

At this time of year the new growth on the Norway Spruce trees is apparent, as pale vivid green on the ends of the twigs. Norway or European Spruce Picea abies, is found across much of Europe and Asia. In a blog from a couple of years ago we looked at how to make a Russian inspired beer from these shoots, in this blog we’ll look at a very simple Croatian way of using them to make a cough syrup.

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To make the syrup, collect a good amount of the fresh shoots 500g-1kg.  The are soft and easily separate from the mature twigs they are attached to.  The branches in the sun, especially on the southern side of the tree will tend to have the longest young growth.

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Weigh the spruce shoots and then weigh out the same weight of caster sugar.  Begin by placing a 2cm layer of sugar in the bottom of a clean jar. Then place a layer of spruce tips. Keep repeating, pressing down the spruce layers as you go and finish with a layer of sugar.

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Cover loosely and place the whole jar on a sunny windowsill and leave for  a few weeks (depending on quantity).  The sugar will draw out the moisture and flavour from the shoots whilst simultaneously dissolving in it. When the sugar has completely dissolved, strain out the needles and bottle.

Take a tablespoon of the syrup as required to ease coughs.

Kev Palmer