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Processing pine trees for food

Over the weekend we were out again in the woods looking for nature’s bounty. The plan was for more acorns but this time we found an abundance of pine cones on the way so we filled our pail with those. Besides decoration the only thing I thought cones were good for was burning. So I looked around and found that they can be eaten as well. So I thought, why not give it a go?

Burning
Pine cones are good for starting fires because they are quick to ignite and burn easily. Simply use pine cones as your kindling and they catch light just like the little shavings of wood but without all the hard work carving. They burn quickly though so make sure you have a good supply of them.

Eating Cones
Apparently you don’t eat pine cones, they are just wood, you can eat pine cone seeds though, squirrels do it. I picked over 200 pine cones last weekend and only a few had seeds in. I ripped them all apart, took hours and ended up with very few seeds and a lot of debris. As well as quantity these seeds were very small, smaller than peppercorns, and they were pretty tasteless as you can’t really chew them but the odd one I managed tasted of wood really.

Like Acorns, not worth the effort unless you were really starving and was starving by a pine tree.

Eating bark
Now in addition to the pine cones the inner bark of the tree is edible as well. So I went back later and cut a strip from a tree. About the size of a small tub of butter which I split into three parts.

The first I tried to eat directly. As expected it cleaned between my teeth well but it ended up stingy with a woody taste.

The second I boiled. Didn’t make that much difference to the texture or the taste although it was easier to chew.

The final one I fried in butter. It was pretty much the same as boiled except it tasted of butter.

I could see this being better than the seeds for survival and it could even be added to other items to provide fibre but I wouldn’t want to live on this for long.

Drinking Tea
The final part of a pine tree you can use are pine needles for making a tea. Pine needles are sticky with sap but when boiled the sap must go into the drink. I boiled a cup and sliced a few pine needles in to the water to steep. Left them for a few minutes before removing them.

Like many of these fashionable, fruity teas like peppermint and so on, all I taste is the hot water with a slightly strange taste. I found the taste similar to those. Must be my taste buds. Nothing spectacular. However it is supposed to be full of vitamin C which makes it a useful addition to your stores.

So far I’m not doing so well on enjoying nature’s bounty.

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