A sweet, resinous spice, wild-harvested by hand. Balsam poplar is a tree typical of North American Boreal forests, also known as bamtree or hackmatack. Once dried, the leaves can be infused as an herbal tea or cooked: its resin-like, floral aromas recall the scent of pine forests. Balsam poplar is a great way to flavor shortbreads, crème anglaise or other desserts. Its leaves also perfectly compliment wildfowl and poultry in general.
It took about 12 years for our supplier, Fabien Girard, to discover the techniques required for drying the leaves in a way that preserves as much of their enchanting flavor as possible. At a specific time in August, the leaves are crushed and rolled by hand to trigger a chemical reaction that leads to a light fermentation. This process takes around 6 months, during which time the leaves develop flavors reminiscent of field berries, blackberries, or pear, along with complex, exotic flavor notes that are less well-known.
Our balsam poplar grows in Quebec’s boreal forest. It is harvested and dried with care near Girardville, in the northern part of the Lac St.-Jean region.
This spice is part of our foraged boreal spice collection (épices boréales).