Pine nuts from the Stone Pine tree

I went of a hike in the hills above the town of Mijas (Spain) and found myself in a forest of Stone Pines (Pinus pinea). Seeing some mature looking pine cones in some of the trees I decided to try and climb one. I was curious to find out how hard it is to extract the pine nuts from these cones.
I found a tree with some fairly low branches and managed to climb up to the top (this tree was only about 20 feet tall). When I reached the pine cones I found that they were full of pine nuts that were ready to fall. So much so that as I reached out to grab the first cones a bunch of its pine nuts fell out. In the end I gave up on trying to break off the pine cones without spilling the pine nuts and started throwing a few to the ground. Then I had to search around on the ground for all the pine nuts that had dislodged from the cones. I took home about 6-7 pine cones.
I think there were about 50-60 pine nuts in each cone. As you can see from the image above there were two nuts nested on each scale of the cone. All I had to do to get them out was to shake the cone a bit and then pry out the stubborn ones with a knife.
From five cones I filled a dinner sized plate with pine nuts (still in their shells). At this point the shells are covered with a black powder than rubs off on your fingers.
This is where the hard part started. These shells are not easy to open!! I tried a hammer but between hitting my fingers and having the little guys go shooting off in all directions decided that there must be a better way.
In the end I settled on using a pair of Vice-Grips that I had in my tool box. If you set the grip depth just right you can crack the shell without destroying the pine nut. Even then it was quite a bit of work to get though that plate of pine nuts!
Once the outer shells were off there is another very thin shell of the nuts similar to that of a peanut. You can eat these nuts raw or, like I did, you can roast them in the oven for a few minutes and eat them roasted. They are a real treat! They are also good in cookies, cakes, bread etc.

external links...

http://www.tenthousandtrees.com/Pinaceae/Pinus%20Pinea.html

9 comments:

  1. Oh wow...what an exciting adventure! That was so fun to read and learn about! Thanks for the details and great photos! Amazing, and now you have all those delicious nuts to eat! YUM!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great photographs of pine nuts. I was very interested to read about your efforts to extract and hull them. I have never tried to do it. It looks like it's not a job for amateurs.

    ReplyDelete
  3. thanks for sharing your pics! Forest-owners are however not delighted when certain people are starting collecting cones to earn some extra money:

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ton - The trees in question where not on private land but rather public land. These are not trees that are "harvested". Nor did I make any money off of the four pine cones I collected. If we were talking about trees used for the commercial production of Pine Nuts then I am sure you are right although about 95% of Stone Pines are extremely difficult to climb given their shape.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So can i go to the park and gather some pine cones with pines nuts inside?? They are so expensive. Peace.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I remember as a child my grandfather used to place the cones by the fireplace; it made the house smell great. Afterwards we would remove the pine nuts and eat them. Where can I purchase whole pine cones ??

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow thanks for the photo and knowledge you have shared. Shame some ignorant people ( Ton )who were not there assume certain things. Anyway where I live there in LDN there is are a great many wild blackberries which I pick. YUM YUM. I have saved a fortune

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great job, i really appreciate your efforts.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Just wanted to say that those pine nuts also can be planted to grow more trees. I've done it!
    Merry Christmas to all!! Cl-Marie

    ReplyDelete