American Green Alder, also called alder pepper in popular jargon, is a widely used forest ingredient in northern Quebec. This shrub up to three meters tall produces kittens (botanical term) as flowers, this is the part that is harvested for use in fine dining. It can be eaten freshly picked or dried, it is generally found dry and whole on the market.
What does it taste like?
It is nicknamed pepper, but in reality, it does not belong to their category. It is rather a substitute and a local option to source local spices. Its taste is very different from pepper, it is surprisingly complex and difficult to describe. It can be described as sapinated and resinous, peppery, having a slight bitterness which contrasts with its floral side. It is also credited with citrus, dill, lemon, and sweet notes. Very soft, it well represents the scents of the boreal forest.
Where to Use Green Alder?
The answer is simple: everywhere, everywhere, everywhere!
- In recipes such as broths, sauces, and marinades
- As a general spice mix
- In drinks such as herbal tea, coffee, beer, and gin
- In desserts! Like a chocolate pie or maple tart
- To flavor an oil (infused oil)
* To try our Forest Latte recipe, it’s here!
To read about the different uses of the green alder, it’s here!
The Virtues of Alder Pepper
It has been used to reduce fever, stop bleeding, and lower gas in the stomach. Like many resinous plants and trees, it has astringent and tonic properties, which promotes a feeling of well-being and vigor. In addition, we extracted its essence in decoction to give to children with a weak appetite. On the other hand, it is considered an abortifacient, it must therefore be avoided in the first months of pregnancy to avoid complications.
Its natural environment
Green alder pepper is found throughout eastern North America, especially in Canada. It likes moist, nutrient-poor soils, such as rocky sites, sandy areas, level terrain, and mountains. The shrub also grows well near marshes, streams, lakes, and rivers. It is possible to harvest it during the winter months, but it is recommended to pick it in late autumn so that it is at the peak of its flavor.
Book: Leaboeuf, Michel, Arbres et plantes forestières du Québec et des maritimes, Éditions Michel Quintin, 2007, 415p