Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Cooking Pinecones

(psst!  You can crochet a giant pine cone if you don't have the real thing handy.)

Last time we saw my giant pine cones, they were gooing up my coat and puncturing my appendages.  Once I got them home, I needed to do something to make sure they weren't full of bugs and also make sure they wouldn't stick to everything they touched.

I did a ton of googling.  Basically, you can soak your pine cones or you can cook them.  I opted for cooking because that involved the least amount of touching them.
I know you saw how big they are when I had them in my arms, but just in case you didn't see the enormity of these suckers, here's a pint glass for comparison. They are huuUUUuuuuge.

I covered my cookie sheet in two layers of aluminum foil.  Then I thought about what I wanted to use to pick up and arrange my pine cones ...

... I didn't want to ruin my dishes gloves ...

... nor my silicone oven mitts ...

Gah!  I opted for sticking my hands in thick freezer ziplock bags as if they were square gloves.  As soon as I touched the first pine cone, it punctured my finger.  Seriously?!?  Ouch!

I cooked the pinecones at 200 degrees F for 20 minutes.  I turned them halfway through.

PLEASE NOTE:  They smell fantastic until you open the oven at which time you choke on the intense and overwhelming fumes of CRAZY HOT PINE TAR.

What I mean is, open a window before you start this and make sure your kitchen is well ventilated because breathing this stuff literally hurts.

Very strong, very sharp, hypodermic-like thorns.

Crazy sharp thorns and sticky sticky pine tar.

Pretty instrument of pain and torture.

This is the bottom of a pine cone before I cooked them.

Here is the bottom of a pine cone after I cooked them.  The pine cone scales (yes, I googled "pine cone anatomy" to find out what the word was ... ) opened up and curled under when I cooked them.  

The tar was still sticky when I took them out of the oven, but once they cooled down, the tar hardened.  They are still dangerous as all get out, though!  :)  And pretty!
9 Comments leave a comment

Dee said ...
That's pretty neat information about pine cones. I had no idea. I actually wanted to get a pine cone but after learning they like to puncture people, I opted out. I'd really like to keep myself puncture free.
12/4/2013 9:17 AM

futuregirl replied ...
Dee ... Not all pine cones have those crazy sharp thorns.
12/4/2013 1:49 PM

Ria Smits said ...
why are you so afraid to touch the pine cones???I realy wonder, (I'm a dutch girl of 67 years old) and we pick them up in the forrest get the durt of and use them.
12/4/2013 12:40 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Ria Smits ... Most pine cones are safe to touch. These giant pine cones have very sharp, very strong thorns at the end of each scale. You can see them in my close up photos. They very easily poke right through your skin, even when you are trying very hard to hold them gently and carefully. And it HURTS a lot.
12/4/2013 1:48 PM

Gwen Flanagan said ...
You fooled those cones into thinking it might be time to open up and drop their seeds! If you had continued to apply heat and more of it, the scales would have opened up further, and released their seeds like they were in a fire. This makes the seeds mechanically more disposed to germinating when the hit the ground. It's called scarification. This is why fires are not always such a bad deal for the forest (but they are definitely bad for us!)
I have a friend who toasts her cones too. She likes the way it give them a little shine, like they'd been waxed or lacquered.
You were brave, you intrepid hiker you!
12/4/2013 4:05 PM

futuregirl replied ...
Gwen Flanagan ... I didn't think about the nature mechanics of the whole thing. Thanks for the info! :)
12/15/2013 5:26 PM

Linda DuBos said ...
Thank you so much for posting about the procedure (medically speaking) and the dangers - pricked fingers and hot tar. We have a tree that produces huge pinecones but luckily not sharp thorns. I've never used them to decorate inside the house so never thought about them harboring bugs or other yukky things. Maybe they will continue to be placed in my window boxes with large glass bulbs and other greenery.
12/5/2013 9:28 AM

Man. These are beautiful! I am loving these huge pinecones. Too bad I'm so far from Tahoe, or I'd got snag my own. ;) Might need to do some exploring here in Wisconsin to find some beauts of my own!
12/8/2013 6:07 PM
Jayne said ...
I lived in Marin County for three years and my only regret is that I didn't pack up boxes of those huge, beautiful pine cones!!! I'm in CT now and though our pine cones are quite lovely they are not as big as yours ;)
12/10/2013 8:59 AM


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