Pine cones are very common around the US, so you might be wondering, ‘can you eat pine cones?’ Perhaps you’re out camping and want to try it out, or you want to use it as survival food.
We get hungry fast as humans, and we need food frequently.
So, you can eat most species of pine cones. Pine cones aren’t the best tasting, but they can fill your stomach up. You will also need to consume the pine cones correctly.
So, in this article, you’ll learn what pine cones you can eat, the health benefits, how to eat pine cones, and more.
Let’s dive in.
Can You Eat Pine Cones?
So, can you eat pine cones? Yes, you can eat all species of pine cones except for Norfolk Island pine, lodgepole pines, ponderosa pine, and yew pine. These pine cones are poisonous. Additionally, pine cones are not reccomended for dogs or pets.
For the pine cones you can eat, much of the rest of the tree is also edible, including the pine needles, the inner layer of bark, pine pollen, resin, and pine nuts.
Pine trees have no fruit to offer, but they can have delicious pine needles and pine cones that you can eat safely if consumed correctly.
By the way, did you know you could make pine needle tea? Learn more by clicking the link to our article.
So, what are the benefits of pine cones?
What are the Health Benefits of Pine Cones?
Pine cones contain many essential nutrients for your body. These include antioxidants, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, and manganese.
Additionally, you’ll gain many calories from each pine cone you eat – they are very dense with calories.
This will help with your heart’s health and brain health and may reduce inflammation.
Are Pine Cones Poisonous
Most species of pine cones are not poisonous, but a few pine cone species are. These include:
- Norfolk Island Pine – This may cause medical distress and skin problems.
- Lodgepole Pine – potentially lethal toxicity.
- Ponderosa Pine – potential toxicity when eating.
- Yew Pine – seeds are mildly toxic.
If you click on the links, you’ll see an image of each of the species.
Another thing to consider is your allergy reaction to pine cones. Most people won’t have an allergy, but if you can, carry an EpiPen when trying a pine cone out.
There are also rare cases of something called pine mouth – which is this metallic taste in your mouth that stays for around a week. This doesn’t mean the pine cone is poison, but just a side effect that may take place.
Where to Find Pine Cones?
Now that you know pine cones are good for you, the pine cones to avoid, and the potential side effects, where exactly do you find these pine cones no matter where you are?
Pine cones can be found near conifer trees. Conifer trees are typically very tall trees – some spanning over 200 feet tall.
- Pine trees
- Spruce trees
- Cedar trees
- Pinyon pines
- Fir trees
Pine cones can also vary in size, but all of them are edible except for the ones mentioned above.
You’ll find that most pine cones fall during autumn and winter time, but this may vary depending on where you live.
How to Identify Pine Trees
There are a few key things that you can do to identify pine trees:
- Feel the needles – if it’s soft and comes in bundles, it’s probably a pine tree. If it isn’t, it’s probably a fir or spruce tree. The needles will also be fairly long. But, don’t stop here. There are more indications.
- There are relatively few branches on the tree.
- Check that the cones are rigid and sharp. If it passes this test, it’s probably a pine cone.
How to Eat Pine Cones
Now that you know how to identify pine cones, how do you prepare and eat them?
You can eat the pine cones, although it’s recommended that you eat the pine nuts instead. You can eat them raw by cutting open the pine cone.
If you are eating the pine cone whole, you should boil the pine cone to make it softer first.
After that, you can enjoy your pine nuts or cones!
Uses for Pine Cones
Pine cone has a variety of uses other than eating. You can use pine cones as:
- Tinder as a fire starter
- Animal food
- Basket weaving
- Lumber to build small structures
How to Make Pine Cone Jam?
So, you might have noticed the medicine mentioned above. How can pine cones be used as medicine, you ask? You can make pine cone jam – which is a medicine used for coughs and other things.
Here are some steps to make pine cone jam:
- Collect pine cones – shorter cones are better
- For each kilo of pine cone, get a kilo of sugar and a liter of water
- Wash the pine cones and put the pine cones in a closed pot
- Put the water in a one-liter pan with sugar
- Simmer the pine cones and everything else in the boiling pot for 90 minutes
Viola, you’ve made pine cone jam!
So, you can eat pine cones as long as you know which ones are poison and how to prepare pine cones.
Although they aren’t the tastiest part of the pine tree, they are nutritious and can make some great medicines.