Sweet Leaves, Frankum, and Spruce Buds

Sweet Gale

The other night I had a memory of being on the grass on Celie Burt’s garden in Elliott’s Cove, with Tony Burt I believe, but that part of the memory is foggy.  Its my most vivid memory of eating something we all ate as kids I’m sure; sweet leaves.  Eric and I were trying to figure out what they officially are named earlier, and thought they might be Sweet Gale, but that grows up to a meter high and that doesn’t sound right, but maybe so.

We used to chew them up and they had a delicious sweet taste, that I do remember, and we spent a lot of time pulling them out and getting that sweet juice.

Another thing I’ve had occasionally, and came back to me with the same memory, and I’m sure others have had even more frequently is the soft new growth that pops out from the spruce buds in the spring of the year.  I’ve read it’s good in salads, and can be brewed into spruce beer.  I’ve had both (the growth and the beer) and while one may be derived from the other, I’m not sure what I had was, as the beer was disgusting, while the buds weren’t that bad!

Lastly there’s frankum.  I doubt many of the young people now have had it, or even heard of it, but the older generation used it like chewing gum.  Its the hardened resin from a spruce tree, and Dad used to cut it off and trim off the bark, and start chewing it.  Its a bit hard to get going, and tastes a bit barky till you get it going, but its not that bad!  The worst part is if you didn’t get a nice hard piece, you ended up putting raw sticky resin in your mouth, not a pleasant experience!