How to extract pine nuts

Written by katie leigh
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How to extract pine nuts
Pine nuts must be extracted from pine cones. (Steve Woods)

Pine nuts are edible seeds that come from the female pine cones of certain types of pine trees. They resemble small kernels of corn and are located underneath the pine cone's scales. Pine nuts are protected by a hard outer shell and by the closed scales of the pine cone. Because of this, they can be difficult to remove without special tools. However, with a little patience and time investment, you can harvest pine nuts from pine cones at home.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Burlap sacks
  • Small paring knife
  • Mesh screen with 1/2-inch gaps

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Dry the pine cones to open up the scales. This can be done a couple of different ways. The first technique is to place the pine cones in burlap sacks and put them outside in the sun. Make sure they're in a warm, dry spot, and leave them out there for 3 to 5 days, flipping the bags each day. The other method is to spread the pine cones in a single layer on top of the burlap bags and place them in front of a fire or open oven. Leave them there until the scales dry out.

  2. 2

    Place the dried pine cones in a burlap sack if they're not already in one and shake the bag to loosen pine nuts from the cones. Discard the empty pine cones; use a small paring knife to free any pine nuts that are still clinging to the scales.

  3. 3

    Dump the pine nuts onto a screen with 1/2-inch gaps. Run your hand over the pine nuts, separating them from their shells. Make sure to do this over a clean, level surface (such as a table), as pine nuts and debris may fall through the screen.

  4. 4

    Store the cleaned nuts in an airtight container. Pine nuts go bad quickly, so it's best to use them within a few days of harvesting

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