Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Foraging for Foothill Pine: Pine Nut Pesto

Ron and I headed out to the foothills in search of some late season foothill pine cones. Before I left for a month in Mongolia we had found a few that the squirrels had chewed open. They were still green and the fruit not yet mature...

Yet we were hopeful that even with the ever present industrial scale foraging efforts of our native Gray squirrel and invasive Fox squirrel, there would still be a few cones left for us.

We stopped off at a spot situated in mixed oak woodlands and Gray Pine (Pinus sabiniana) and found that though the evidence of squirrel foraging was rampant, there was plenty of fruit for our harvest as well!

As a matter of fact we made off like bandits! We found that the cones were filled with pine nuts under each scale, ready to be shaken loose and processed! We had all the cones we needed in about fifteen minutes time!

We headed back with and abundant harvest and my girl and her cousin helped free the tasty morsels from the cones by rapping them against the concrete. Keep in mind, it can get a bit sticky as each cone is dripping with pine resin, so wash your hands but first rub them down with olive oil...it helps free the sticky pitch!

The next step was cracking the hard shells to remove the object of our interest...pine nuts!
I achieved this with a simple hammer-and-anvil method using a hammer stone and anvil stone and cracking each pine nut lengthwise. Pretty soon we had a bounty ready to puree with basil and herbs for a one of a kind pesto!

With delicious tomatoes and basil from Mary's garden...and we were set!

A truly incredible meal and a ton of fun acquiring and making it.

Get out there...go nuts...go forage for pine nuts!

Keep the old ways alive!

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