Friday, October 8, 2010

Pine Nuts!!

I have to admit, life has been just as challenging in 2010, as in 2009. But, I am a 'joie de vivre' person, & seem to always find the pleasures in life, especially here in the mountains. A squirrel clued me in that this is pine nut season! We probably missed out on the bulk of the harvest, but wow, the nuts we have gleaned are fantastic!
Here is the monkey taking the pine nuts out of a pine cone. The tree you see has been the bane of our existence, dripping pine sap right on one of the dogs' main pathways, resulting in lovely tar balls in the house. However, this tree has had a good harvest this year, and is redeeming itself.

  Note that we wore gloves when finding pine cones & removing the seeds. The best ones will be dark brown in color. I have to jet to work, but will post photos of toasted nuts, & more info later! Including interesting history of this area & Chumash...
  So, back to the post. Apparently, the Chumash considered Mt. Pinos the center of the world (hence the name for our local "Center of the World" festival). Their prime gathering spots were between Mt. Pinos & what is now the town of Frazier Park. Our home in the Cuddy Valley is smack-dab in that area.
  Pinon pines have the tastiest nuts, but I believe other varieties are also edible (you may want to double-check). Anyway, it is definitely labor-intensive, but the results...aaaaahhhh!! A fun reason to go on a hike.
  You can go out in the national forest, & do not need a permit. You can gather up to 85 lbs of nuts for personal consumption, according to one web site I found.
  We are amateurs, but some nuts pop out when the ripe cone falls. Most we have had to pry from the cones, which is why the birds & squirrels didn't beat us. The cones with the best nuts are the freshest, with a bit of sap, yet opened at least partially.
  Once you extricate the nuts (dark brown are the best), wash them. They can be roasted in or out of the shell. I prefer out, as I can see for myself ahead of time whether it contains a viable nut. We are late in the season, so some were shriveled up. The good nuts are obvious; white & plump under the thin skin.
  Bake them gently, at a lower temperature than pumpkin seeds, like around 200 degrees or less. Toast until they look a little browned. Taste a few, if too moist, pop back in oven.
  Store in the refrigerator, or they will reportedly go rancid in a few days. You can also freeze them.
Yes, Mommy, I want some pine nuts!!

1 comment:

  1. I've wondered how to do this. Pine nuts are so expensive to buy, and we have so many right here in our backyard. Can't wait to see more!