savor the mountains

Foraged Pine Nuts

By / Photography By Ilona Oppenheim | September 08, 2016
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Pine nuts come from pinecones. Fewer than 20 species produce nuts large enough to harvest for human consumption.

Savor The Mountains

The best time to forage for pinecones is in the fall. The actual pine nuts are located within the scales of the cone. Birds and squirrels eat these nuts as soon as the scales dry and open; to get there ahead of the animals, you’ll have to collect closed pinecones and store them in a warm place until they open. Then you can pick the nuts from between the scales. Each nut is surrounded by a shell, which is soft and thin and can be cracked between your fingers or with the light tap of a small hammer. It’s a labor-intensive process, which explains the retail price of pine nuts in your gourmet market.

Pine nuts can be used as an accent in many dishes, from salads to pasta, in chocolate bars and, as in this recipe, in cookies. To get the full flavor of these cookies, use foraged or high-grade pine nuts and homemade almond paste.

Ilona's daughter, Liloo, examines the scales of a pinecone in search of nuts.

Learn more about Ilona’s family foraging adventures at

Article from Edible Aspen at
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