If you ’ ve always bought pine nuts in the store, chances are you ’ ra eating chinese imports that are frequently of doubtful origin. And even if you are argus-eyed about where your pine nuts come from and buy, say italian ache nuts, you may get high quality, but you pay for it through the nuzzle .
Why aren ’ thymine there american ache nuts, you ask ? well, there are. You just have to go find them yourself. It requires some doggedness, but here ’ s how to harvest ache nuts .
First off, you in truth must live in the West to do this. Unless you can find a roll italian stone pine planted somewhere as a landscaping tree, easterly pine nuts are excessively little or have shells excessively hard to bother with. Sorry, guys.
If you are in the West, you are largely looking for two types, both called piñons : Pinus edulis and P. monophylla. Yes, a few other pines have good-tasting nuts, chiefly the sugar ache and the gray ache, which I’ve written about before. But the real action is with the two piñons .
Where to find them?
Pinus edulis is by and large a tree of the Southwest, and you can look for is from San Bernardino County in California to most of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, southerly and western Colorado, two southern counties in Wyoming, and two counties outside of El Paso, Texas .
Pinus monophylla is a capital Basin tree, and you ’ ll find it on the easterly side of the Sierra Nevada in California, american samoa well as throughout SoCal, about all of Nevada and Arizona, all of western and southerly Utah, two southern counties in Idaho, and, weirdly, Luna County in New Mexico .
Both are rather scrabbly looking pine trees that like the high desert. The tree at correct is a singleleaf piñon — P. monophylla — in eastern California and is typical of the species. P. edulis, the two-leaf piñon, is similar-looking if not even scragglier .
once you find some trees, start scoping them out in early August. You ’ rhenium looking for trees that have lots of greens pinecones on them. not every tree will set cones, and lone Mother Nature knows why. But you can find load trees next to barren ones. sometimes small variations in elevation or whether the trees are on a north or south face of a slope can matter a batch. Once you find the trees, remember where they are .
recurrence to them around Labor Day. It sounds early, but you need to beat the Insane Rodent Posse ( IRP ) to these tasty nuts. In my blemish, there are several chipmunk or ground squirrel holes under each piñon and they are fair waiting for each cone to open. I am betting that the nuts are gone within 24 hours of a cone opening. Under no circumstances can you wait until October to gather your nuts, or you risk them all being scurried away by the IRP .
How to gather ? First, buy a brassy pair of gardening gloves. The cones are coated in pitch, a odoriferous sticky resin that will get on everything. It happens to be one of the most adorable smells in the universe, so it ’ s not all bad. But your gloves will get wrecked, so be prepared for that. Pick each cone into a wallpaper grocery bag.
When you get home, lay the fleeceable cones out in brassy foil roasting trays or some early shallow, wide container you can stack no more than two cones deep — if you stack them excessively deep they can get moldy. Enjoy the fantastic aroma and expect. finally, they will begin to open on their own .
When the cones do open, approximately 3 weeks or so, pick out all the nuts from within. You ’ ll get a fiddling cant on your hands, but it comes off with anoint .
not all nuts will be effective nuts, alas. It ’ s a fact of pine testis action that can be depressing. All that waiting and cultivate, and sometimes your return is a icky 50 percentage or worse. It happens. At least there ’ s an easily way to tell if your nuts are good or not. Dump all the nuts in a bucket of water. About 85 percentage of those that ice-cream soda are no good. The sinkers are the keepers .
There is something you can do with the floaters, however. You can mash them up — most acquire ’ t have any crackpot at all inside — fill a Mason jar full and cover it with vodka. Put a eyelid on the clash, wait a few months and bang ! Pine en bourbon. Damn good gorge .
You ’ ll notice something : Dark nuts are good nuñts. The dark the shell, the more likely the crackpot is a dear one. The en on the leave is a P. monophylla nut, the one on the right is from P. edulis.
As for the good nuts, you will even need to shell them. See why boughten pine nuts are so expensive ? sadly, there is no fast way to shell pine nuts. The most effective way is silent one at a time, and believe me, I ’ ve tested lots and lots of different ways to shell these little buggers. This video shows it very well .
once they ’ ra shelled, freeze the nuts. In fact, freeze even the nuts still in the carapace if you plan on keeping them around for more than a couple weeks. Pine nuts are surprisingly perishable. once frigid, however, in-shell pine nuts will keep for 2 years or more. Oh, and don ’ thyroxine forget to use the shells for more pine testis bourbon…
Looking for pine en recipes ? here are three of my favorites :