Monday, 12 October 2015

Pine Cone Season

It is pine cone season, once again! In the city,  the coniferous trees are dropping their pine cones onto the ground. Without going to the mountains or forests planted to pine trees, I have amassed  bagfuls of pine cones, of different varieties.
I see them in our community park and street islands. But what am I going to do with them? I have some ideas for using them as decorations, among other things, for the holiday season.

When I take my daily walks, I now carry bags with me as I take a little detour. From just this alley lined with pine trees, there is enough pine cones to pick up to even start a little, craft business.

Jeffrey Pine, mainly found in California

I am attempting to identify these pine-cone varieties. There are over a hundred species of trees that fall under the pinus genus. Originally native to the Northern hemisphere, some of the pine species have now adapted to the lowlands in different parts of the world. It is common to see pine trees in landscaped cities and residential communities, lining streets, in the parks, and in residential backyards. Noting the tree bark, the size of the needles and number per bunch, and the cone size can help us figure out the pine tree specie.

This is my usual stash after a walk through the alley, about three bags of assorted sizes. They still need to be cleaned. Lately, I have just been picking up the larger ones - anywhere from 6 to 8 inches long.

First, I sort them out and separate those that are soiled. I just use a metal barbecue stick and brush to do the job, then soak them to loosen up the remaining dirt. After soaking,  the cones are scrubbed under water, then rinsed. 

The clean cones need not be washed, but de-sapped.

1. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. 
2. Arrange your pine cones within the sheet. Measure the height between racks so you don't touch the racks above with the pine cones. The taller cones may be laid down.
3. Pre-heat the oven to 220°F. 
4. Put in your baking sheets, making sure to allow for some space between the racks for the air to circulate. 
5. Bake for 20 minutes.
After baking, the sap is melted, the pine cone's color  turns into a deeper shade of brown, and the pine scent fills the air.

Just to give you a tip, last Christmas I gave away a good number of gift cards. I used the pine cone as the gift-card holder before packing it into a gift bag. 

I am excited to get my hands on these cones again this fall, to make holiday crafts for the coming holiday season.

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