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!
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.
Store in the refrigerator, or they will reportedly go rancid in a few days. You can also freeze them.