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How to Harvest Pine Nuts

Humans have been harvesting pine nuts for thousands of years. People all over the world have enjoyed these treats and they are a necessity in recipes like pesto sauce. If you have a pine tree in your yard that has edible pine nuts you can harvest pine nuts too. Pinyon pines, native to the US, have edible pine nuts, as does the European stone pine and the Asian Korean pine. The gray pine and the Torrey pine also have pine nuts large enough to harvest.

Harvest pine nuts in the late summer to late fall. This is when the pine cones are ready to be picked. If the pine cone is open, the nuts can be shaken out of the pine cone immediately. If the pine cone is closed you must open it before you can remove the nuts. Harvest both open and closed pine cones.

Place the ladder near the pine tree. Climb the ladder. Pick the pine cones on the tree by twisting them until they come off. You may have to move the ladder to gain access to cones around the tree.

Place the unopened pine cones in the burlap sack. Fill it with as many pine cones as you can pick.

Place the bag of pine cones in the sun and leave it for 3 to 4 days. The pine cones need to dry out so they can open up and release their seeds.

Turn the bag over every day. Check inside the bag on the third or forth day to see if the pine cones are open. If they are not open, allow them to dry for another two days.

Hold the bag closed and shake it once the pine cones are open. This will cause the pine nuts to dislodge from the pine cones.

Pick the pine nuts out of the bag and place them on a screen. Shake the screen gently to clean the pine nuts.

Remove the pine nut's shells by breaking them off with your fingers. Place them in a bowl and enjoy.


Do not bother with pine cones on the ground as they probably have no pine nuts left inside of them due to animal foraging.

Pine nuts may be eaten raw or roasted.


Be sure to wear gloves when picking pine cones as pine tree sap is very sticky.

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