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Spicebush is a favorite spice to collect in the late summer and early fall. It is just in time for early goose season and archery deer season. I like to collect enough for the year because I use it on eggs, lamb, fish and sometimes ice cream.
There is potential for three different flavors from the drupe. If you separate the pulp from the inner seed they are two similar but subtly different flavors. And if you combine the two the subtle differences merge to make yet another flavor.
Around the campfire, you can crush up the whole drupe and use fresh as a spice. I prefer to collect the drupes and dry them for later use. Using a coffee grinder can make short work of the hard inner seed. If you do decide to collect the drupes for later use make sure you dry them very thoroughly as they tend to get moldy. I only grind up what I am about to use and nothing extra. I have found that the oiliness of the crushed meal can go rancid or moldy easily.
You can make tea from the twigs. Simply collect a handful of twigs, brake up to fit in a cup and add to hot water. It’s a bit of a mildly earthy flavor, not too bold at all. It’s worth a try if you’re feeling adventurous.
The finished spice can be used as a dry rub or added directly to cooked meat.
Lindera benzoin, commonly called spicebush, is a native deciduous shrub with a broad, rounded habit which typically grows 6-12' (less frequently to 15') high in moist locations in bottomlands, woods, ravines, valleys and along streams. Clusters of tiny, apetalous, aromatic, greenish-yellow flowers bloom along the branches in early spring before the foliage emerges. Thick, oblong-obovate, light green leaves (to 5" long) turn an attractive yellow in autumn. Leaves are aromatic when crushed. The larva (caterpillar) of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly feeds on the leaves of this shrub.
Type: Deciduous shrub
Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Fall color is best in sunny areas. Tolerates full shade, but habit becomes more open and wide-spreading.
5064 Milford Road, East Stroudsburg, PA
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Seth H. Richards
Locally owned and Family Operated Since 1932.
Dr. John Richards established Richards Tree Farm in Middle Smithfield, PA as an evergreen farm. Building on those roots, his Great Grandson, Seth Hastings Richards, has grown the farm into a full service Garden Center and Landscape installation business for the past 25 years. The farm specializes in Organic Gardening, Edible, Native, and Unique plants.