The process started with placing the coiled mass in boiling water for 30 minutes. During this step, the colour of the water turned into a dark tea colour and the whole kitchen smelled like a spruce forest after a good spring rain...wonderful!
Dry coiled spruce roots
Boiling away & freshening the air
Softened after a 30 minute boil
The splitting was quite easy after softening the roots. Each coil was unravelled and then a split started with a blade. The split was continued by hand and new coils formed. If the root was thick enough, it was quartered to remove the tough inner pulp but many of the thinner roots could only be split once.
Starting the split
Continuing by hand
Supply of split roots
I'm now left with more coils of split root which are being left to dry out thoroughly. Apparently they should be only be soaked right before use rather than be stored wet, as they can grow a fungal mold. I've been reading that roots that are collected from spruce in late fall/early winter tend to have a brown tea-like colouring while those harvested in warmer temperatures tend to have a pale cream colour. I kind of like the darker coloured roots supplied by the kit which should contrast nicely with the paler colour of the cedar used in constructing the gunwales...I'm getting nervous about that step.