Creeping Charlie & Spruce Tip No-Churn Ice Cream

May 31 / Alberto Carbo
Creeping Charlie - Glechoma hederaceae, is a wonderful cousin of the mint, or Lamiaceae family (look for its square stem). Reminiscent of Catnip, Creeping Charlie exudes a skunky bitterness in the background of the minty aroma and palate at the forefront. I love using it in salads, stir frys, omelets, crème Fraiche, on strawberries, and so many other ways.

Although it was brought to North America from Europe for its culinary and medicinal characteristics, Creeping Charlie is naturalized now and can be easily found. It is a perennial that spreads through seed dispersal as well as through root division, easily propagating. Although popularly used for medicinal purposes in the past, it has fallen out of use contemporarily.

Creeping Charlie is an alterative, adept at gradually re-invigorating the eliminative channels of the body, encouraging the elimination of metabolic accumulations while simultaneously improving the assimilation of nutrients. The Doctrine of Signatures helps us appreciate the kidney-shaped leaves, indicating Creeping Charlie’s ability to improve the quality of the blood by supporting the function of the kidneys.

From its bitter taste, we know that Creeping Charlie supports the actions of the liver, which is constantly busy filtering and cleansing the blood.

Matthew Wood, MS, have used it specifically for virulent infections of the middle ears, or with any chronic respiratory congestion that originated with a blockage of the Eustachian tubes. In line with its ability to support the body's eliminative abilities, Glechoma is also an adept remedy and preventative for lead poisoning, and potentially other heavy metals such as mercury.


For a while now, I have been fascinated by the way in which many evergreens grow in the spring. Not only do the budding branches look adorable, but they are also delicious, and their flavor profile is certainly befitting an early edible – zingy/citrusy, piney, and resinous aftertaste which is stimulating to the system. Spruce tips are also rich in vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, carotenoids, and chlorophyll. For a long time, these magical tassel-like growths have been used by indigenous peoples of North America to relieve coughs and sore throats, usually in the form of infusion.

As many spring plants do, and many conifers, spruce tips encourage the expectoration of stale leftover mucus from winter, while revitalizing and invigorating the lungs.

Ideally, you would want to harvest these when they are still young and tender, many will still have their papery casings around them. They are so delicious, and unique in flavor, that it is hard to refrain from constantly eating as you collect them.


Taking the shortcut doesn’t always work out! I found this was the case for ice cream for the longest time, and although I absolutely love ice cream, I found that making it at home was a time-demanding endeavor that I would, unfortunately, make much less frequently than I had romanticized.

One day, purely by chance, I discovered that there is a simple way to make ice cream. A much quicker way. It takes a little planning ahead, but minimal time in the kitchen. Now I make ice cream much more often!

A few easy steps, a little planning ahead, and you’ve got ice cream! No ice cream machine is necessary. This is a simple cooling recipe, that comes in handy as the temperatures get hotter. The cream lends itself well to the Creeping Charlie and Spruce tip infusion, as the velvety cream picks up on the skunky minty-ness of the Creeping Charlie and the citrusy resin-like aromas of the Spruce tips.

Creeping Charlie & Spruce Tip No-Churn Ice Cream

  • 4 cups (1 L) 35% heavy cream/whipping cream
  • 1 generous handful (2 for small hands) of Creeping Charlie - tender tops & flowers
  • 1/2 cup fresh Spruce tips
  • 7 tbsp of sugar of your choice - you can add more or less depending on your sweet tooth. (I used organic, raw cane sugar in this case.) 

  1. Remove the leaves and flowers from the Creeping Charlie tops into the bottom of a bowl. Add the Spruce tips.
  2. Add sugar.
  3. Muddle. The idea is to break the cell walls in the leaves and release the volatile oils, being careful not to over-muddle the leaves. The sugar will help provide friction. Start off very gently and you’ll be surprised at how little force you need in order to release the wonderful scent.
  4. As you gently muddle, you will notice the sugar begin to dissolve as the juices from the plant matter begin to ooze out. Continue until it is all incorporated. Essentially you want to bruise the leaves, not mush them. The Spruce tips will fall apart.
  5. Pour 1/2 cup (125 ml) of cream into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  6. Pour the boiling cream over the plant matter and sugar. Mix thoroughly. Allow to cool.
  7. Once cooled, place in a glass mason jar, add the rest of the cream, place the lid on the jar and mix thoroughly.
  8. Refrigerate overnight.
  9. The next day (12-16hrs later) strain the cream. This step is optional, some people like to leave the plant matter in there. Experiment and find what your preference is!
  10. Now the fun part – Whip the cream to soft peaks! Don’t over whip! (You have 2 options. You can use a mixer to whip the cream to a peak. If you prefer to work up a little sweat so you feel more deserving of a dessert, use a sturdy whisk and whip it by hand. Although tiring indeed, I highly recommend whipping your cream by hand, as you will feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when you…finally, get soft peaks!)
  11. Once whipped, place the whipped cream in a glass container and freeze.
  12. Wait 2-3 hours and serve!
  13. Garnish with Creeping Charlie FF&F - fresh foliage & flowers!
  14. Enjoy

If you are super pressed for time, you can put the whipped cream in large freezer bags. Pour it in, and before you zip the bag closed, try to spread the cream out as evenly as possible within the bag, so that it is a thin, uniform layer. Place flat in your freezer. Should be ready in about an hour, in a really cold freezer. 

Keep in mind this is quick ice cream, it may not be as easy to serve when it is fully frozen. Simply allow it to sit out of the freezer for a few minutes and it will soften up. 
As always make sure to forage for plants away from roads and pollution as much as possible. Never overharvest any plant, as they are of course not only here for our enjoyment, but also here for the insects, bees, and birds. Have fun out there!
The information provided in this digital content is not medical advice, nor should it be taken or applied as a replacement for medical advice. Matthew Wood, the Matthew Wood Institute of Herbalism, ETS Productions, and their employees, guests, and affiliates assume no liability for the application of the information discussed.