Well a great start to the new year, nature’s bounty never ceases to astound me I love discovering new wild free foods, it makes me immensely happy…..
Strolling through the acres of pine forest (Pinus radiata) surrounding my home town yesterday, my supermarket these days searching for what food was on the menu this week I came across a pine that had fallen and as I was scrambling over it I had an inkling of an Idea that the pine nut from the sticky cones must be edible, so I had a go at removing some cones to take home well I wasn’t prepared for this activity and didn’t have the appropriate tool (tomahawk me thinks) for the job so it was tough going I can tell ya, but after some heaving and swearing I managed to remove fifteen or so stubborn resinous cones.
As there wasn’t much else around in that patch I headed home exited at the prospects that I could do something with this abundant resource, so I Googled pine nuts and did a bit of digging, as it so happens the Pinus radiate are well known for their tasty pine nuts.
In the literature they are referred to as Monterey pines but either the trees here aren’t Pinus radiata or the ones they are calling Pinus radiata aren’t the real thing, someone is wrong as the nuts in the pictures on the net are double the size of the ones I have here, but I decided to give it a crack anyway.
I put the cones in the sun for the rest of the afternoon so they opened a bit then after the sun went down I put them in the oven for a while until they were totally open and my house was thick with the smell of pine resin, a pleasant side effect of this process. Once the cones had cooled a bit I banged the cones on the sink until they gave up their nuts, not an easy or quiet task but eventually I got a good lot of nuts out, tiered from all this work I went to bed leaving the task until tomorrow a new day.
I dreamt of pine nuts all night not having really eaten bought pine nut much before I woke up exited to get the job done so I could actually taste them. I winnowed the nut and experimented with de shelling them, the little tease taste of the soft nutty flesh under the hard shell was enough to get my saliva glads working over time, I couldn’t believe the flavour and had a new appreciation of why they are so expensive to buy in shops.
As far as I could tell there was no easy way to remove this shell I couldn’t find any info on the net not for nuts this size they are smaller than small sunflower seeds……
Frustrated but determined I decided to soak them hoping the shell would soften but it didn’t really, so I decide to just grind them up to see if I could get it fine enough that I could eat the shell and all but I didn’t like to result.
Sitting there racking my brain looking at the grey mushy mess I had sitting in front of me I just couldn’t give up on something that was so abundant tasty and so close to home, so just before my head imploded I thought milk!! Like NUT MILK yah I yelped, and after I stopped straining my shoulder from trying to pat myself on the back I watered the mush down and strained it several times until I ended up with a creamy white, nutty with a hint of pine nut milk!
I was so impressed with myself and the result I had to take some strait up to my friends café so she could try it, she suggested we reduce it to see how it would turn out and it was so good it’s like coconut milk with a fresh piney after taste, I’m so over the moon and exited by the prospect of utilizing this abundant wild harvest all around me.
But having said all that and just now making this amazing discovery, it’s just my luck that the company that owns the plantations have decided to log this whole area so I need to pull my finger out and harvest as much as possible before they are all gone, it will take them a coupler years to log them all and then it will be awhile before the new ones they replant have cones again, but it isn’t a big deal there are plenty of pine plantations here in Tassie I will just have to travel a bit to find new patches.
I actually planted these plantations surrounding my home town when I was about fourteen or fifteen and I’m now forty so I’m chuffed that all these years later I am just now getting all these benefits from these plantations, it gives real meaning to the saying you will eventually reap what you sow……….
What an incredible start to my year, I have a feeling it is going to be a wonderfully bountiful gastronomically adventurous year from here…..