How To Clean, Bake, And Store Pine Cones
Did you know how to clean, bake and store pine cones? What is the best emergency fuel to store? People ask me this all the time. I realize we all have different budgets, cooking devices, and heating options. Some of us have small homes, others have medium-sized or large homes. Of course, then we have to evaluate the land we live on and how much room we have to use the various types of fuel available.
Some of us have apartments or mobile homes with limited space for fuel storage and the challenge of actually putting to use the fuels we have stored based on fire codes and hazards. We also have to think about the storage life of good fuels we want to store. There are also safety issues, and how much can we really store where we live. Life is all about storing the best emergency fuel that fits our living quarters and the budget we have available. I’m updating this post from a few years ago. Some readers have asked me about preparing and using pine cones.
Pine Cones on Golf The Course
Well, my husband plays golf and he mentioned that the golf course has tons of FREE pine cones lying everywhere on the ground. I love the word FREE, and so my husband and I went over to the golf course one evening to gather some pine cones. Of course, the weather said it was going to snow that day. If you haven’t been to Southern Utah to see the beautiful red mountains then you probably have not seen the red dirt either.
Yes, it is red and it stains everything. It’s also like clay, so it’s sticky, sort of, meaning it sticks to everything. I didn’t want my shoes covered with wet red dirt so we hightailed it over to the golf course before the storm was due to arrive. The wind was blowing like crazy so the weather felt freezing to me! Below you can see how we gathered them with a 33-gallon black garbage bag.
Free Pine Cones
I took a collapsible garbage can and put a large black bag inside of it before we left to go to the golf course. We weren’t sure how much sap the pine cones would still have on them. Now, you might be wondering, “Linda, why would you call pine cones one of the best emergency fuels?”
Well, here’s the deal, I am not a good fire starter. Yes, I have tried so many gadgets to light a fire, but I still need tinder or FREE pine cones. Don’t get me wrong, these pine cones are good for more than just starting the fire, they just burn faster. I can also use these in my Kelly Kettle.
Pine cones are also great to use in my Volcano Stove or in my firepit. We can’t store a lot of wood because of the termites here in Southern Utah. Plus, after baking these pine cones, they are insect-free and the sap is gone as part of the process of “baking” them.
Baking The Pine Cones
My friend, Lisa, mentioned to me to bake the pine cones on some cookie sheets covered by aluminum foil right in my stove. If there is a lot of sap, using the aluminum foil means you won’t have a lot of clean-up after baking them. It worked. I baked the pine cones at 200 degrees for 2 hours. The baking process not only eliminates any sticky sap, but also gets rid of any bugs that may be hiding in the core of the pine cone.
In the first batch, I was a bit nervous because I’ve never baked pine cones. No problems with baking them. I made sure that I had zero pine cones hanging over the cookie sheet because I didn’t want any drips of sap in my oven.
Ready To Store Fuel
I must admit, I am a bit of an organization fanatic. I might even be a little OCD, I don’t know for sure. These black buckets are from my favorite bucket and Gamma Lid distributor, PleasantHill Grain. It’s the only place I can get the colored five-gallon buckets with matching lids. Weird to some people, but it’s who I am.
I store my wheat with red Gamma lids and my pasta with yellow Gamma lids. I made my emergency washing machines with green lids. Mark and I store my Kingsford charcoal in blue buckets with blue Gamma lids. I store my fire starter/best emergency fuel pine cones in black buckets with black Gamma lids. I order all my buckets and Gamma Lids from this group: Pleasant Hill Grains.
It looks like they only sell wheat grinders, Bosch bread makers, etc., but they do sell buckets and Gamma Lids. They also sell so much more. They just changed their website, so if it looks different to you, it’s because they have a new look.
Black Buckets Are Not BPA FREE or Safe To Store Food
After removing the pinecones from the oven I did let them cool before placing them in the black buckets. I must note here that these black buckets are not safe for food or water storage for human consumption. Pleasant Hill Grains actually called me to let me know something about these black buckets.
Only the black buckets are not BPA FREE, and therefore not safe to store food. All the other colors of buckets are safe to store food and are BPA FREE. Can you see the BIG gold writing on the side of the buckets below? That’s the warning not to use these for food. I’m not storing a lot of the pine cones, but I also don’t want to have to go scrounge for pine cones when everyone else wants some too after hearing about my positive experience.
Storing Pine Cones
Gamma Lids on Buckets
The Gamma lids are a two-piece lid, the ring or band, I guess you would call it, and the awesome screw-on lid itself. You need a rubber mallet and a cloth to carefully tap the “ring or band” on the bucket. These are 5-gallon buckets.
Store Pine Cones with Other Fuel
Kingsford Charcoal Story
I really have to tell you this story about Kingsford Charcoal. I picked up two bags of this charcoal to complete my blue buckets storage project and finished it with blue Gamma lids. I wanted them all full and ready for when I might need them. Please picture me at my local grocery store. I ran to get my husband’s weekly allotment of bananas for his morning breakfast cereal.
Skip The Lighter Fuel Charcoal
While I was there I picked up some Kingsford charcoal that was manufactured without the chemicals. Please note, charcoal without the lighter fluid chemicals will store indefinitely, if kept in a waterproof/airtight container. I store my oak hardwood lump charcoal in red buckets with red Gamma lids. I want several types of fuel for different emergency situations.
When I’m ready to pay at the checkout counter the clerk (about 60ish) asked me if I knew why Kingsford charcoal was called Kingsford. I said I didn’t know. He proceeded to show me on the bag where they tell a little story behind the name.
Oh my gosh! I couldn’t stop smiling because I had never heard the story. I certainly hadn’t seen part of the story on the bag. We have a gas barbecue and about the only time I buy charcoal is for a party or camping up in the mountains.
I wonder if the Boy Scouts or their leaders know about this story? Just thinking out loud about the name of the charcoal. This statement is straight from the Kingsford bag and I quote: “The History Of The Original Charcoal: Back in 1920, Kingsford Charcoal repurposed wood scraps from the production of Ford Model T’s into charcoal briquets.
Made in the USA. Today, Kingsford remains the leading manufacturer of charcoal in the U.S., annually turning 1 million tons of real wood scraps into the authentic charcoal briquets America loves.”
Charcoal briquettes vs Lump charcoal:
What is briquette charcoal?
It’s charcoal that has been pressed into similar sizes with round uniform shapes. This is what we normally think of as BBQ fuel.
What is lump charcoal?
It’s generally charred wood fuel that is not formed into uniform shapes. It’s natural tree lumber that is charred in a kiln.
Which have more ashes: lump or briquettes?
Briquettes have more ashes because they are pressed into forms and the lump charcoal is naturally charred tree lumber via a kiln.
Which product has more consistent heat?
Briquettes because they are uniform in size, therefore heat more evenly.
How does the price compare between the two?
This can vary widely because some lump charcoal can be made out of pecan, oak, pine, or whatever wood is natural for the area where it is being sold. Some woods are more expensive, depending on the location you purchase them and the availability of the wood.
They are typically more expensive than briquettes. Note that the charcoal made from softwoods tends to burn faster and the harder woods tend to burn slower and longer, so plan ahead based on what you will be cooking and the desired results.
Butane With A Butane Stove:
We still open a window to let a bit of fresh air in just to be safe when using a butane stove. I used to use these stoves in classes where I would teach food storage-type classes or emergency cooking classes. Mark and I also used this stove for six weeks along with our solar Sun Oven when we were waiting for our gas stove to be installed in the kitchen. We’re so glad we replaced our glass top electric stove.
I’ve always preferred cooking with natural gas, not only because you can control the heat more consistently, but because it tends to be less expensive to use. Also, I haven’t found a glass top stove that can accommodate the heat generated when I do my annual canning. There may be some engineered that way, but I haven’t found one.
It’s been fun cooking with gas again. Once the harvest season is here later this year we’ll be talking about proper canning techniques and how to make the most of the fruit and vegetable crops we’ve grown in our own garden, or the ones found in our local stores or farmers’ market. The gas stove makes it possible to can and pressure cook, where I couldn’t with the old glass top. Butane Stove and Butane Fuel
Please store pine cones if you have access to them for FREE, you will be prepared for the unexpected. May God bless this world, Linda
10 thoughts on “How To Clean, Bake, And Store Pine Cones”
I wish I had a little wagon to pull around our yard. I am always finding really nice big pine cones and those cute little ones along the driveway. I was thinking of collecting them to use in a small wood burning stove. The big ones are quite impressive.
Baking them sounds like a good way to make sure they’re not full of bugs and they would be dry as dust, better for packing away. I would imagine they would not “pop” after baking off any moisture.
Now the long pine needles can be saved as tinder, but some people actually use them to make baskets. I have a bunch of them made from rattan since my mother loved them, but I guess if I needed more, the pine needles are available.
Hi Frank, I bet your yard is beautiful with pine cones and trees! I bet those baskets are beautiful! Great comment! Linda
I pick up the sticks in the yard and store them in feed sacks for kindling. I guess it’s the same concept.
I need to think on where there are some pines now.
HI Matt, good idea, we don’t have trees around here. I was surprised they had pine cones over at the golf course. Linda
I’ve never considered storing pine cones. Interesting
Hi Matt, they work for me in my little house. Linda
I no longer live in an area with pine trees. On the West side of the Cascade Mtns, we have primarily fir trees. And, at that, not many in the actual area that I live.
So, no storing pine cones for me!! I don’t have room in my apartment anyway. I have seen pine cones used as fire starters by wrapping a length of candle wick in amongst the cone, then dipping in wax. Only need to dip a portion of the cone with the wick included. I have not done this so it would be trial and error on you part.
I do make my own fire starters though that turn out to be nearly free! I use dryer lint, paper egg cartons and paraffin wax. As I do my laundry, I save the lint in the cups of the egg carton and when I have a couple (or more) filled cartons, I melt paraffin wax and pour over the filled cups. Once hardened, I then tear them apart or cut them apart and save in large coffee containers or #10 cans with lids. I have only failed starting a fire one camping trip with these. And I believe that is because the only available fire wood was pretty green and wet. Otherwise, they have not failed me. They can get damp and as long as the lint and part of the paper egg carton are wax coated, they will still start. The only cost to me is the wax as I almost always have a good supply of paper egg cartons from my own use as well as a few friends who keep me in supply. Of course, the dryer lint is free! (I have also been known to save my used toothpicks from testing baked goods and break them up into my lint as well).
Oh – did you also know that the pine nuts (seeds of the pine tree) are edible. They are pretty tiny compared to Pinion nuts but you can still eat them. My sister, brother and I used to gather pine cones before they opened and sold gunny sacks full to the Forest Service. We made a bit of spending money. That was at least 50 years ago. Not sure how the Forest Service gets seeds for the seedling trees they use to plant after either a forest fire or timber harvesting.
Hi Leanne, great comment! I have made those lint egg cartons as well. Great tip! Linda
Last winter we started saving the rolls from paper towels and toilet paper. We fill them with dryer lint and store in buckets. We use them as fire starters in the wood stove. We often buy eggs in five dozen count boxes. And we use the crates as fire starters also. There aren’t any trees with pinecones near here. We used them when I was a kid in New Jersey. I live in Texas now. We have propane, wood and charcoal for heat and cooking. We recently replaced our glass cooktop stove with a gas stove. Now I can cook or can if we lose power indefinitely . Every summer we buy charcoal when it goes on sale. So we always have a minimum of about 20 18lb. bags. The next time we are in East Texas, I will be looking for pinecones. Thanks for your great posts.
Hi Judy, great comment! My sister lives in Texas, I love it there! It’s crazy where I live in the desert that we have pine cones! Keep prepping, great tip! Linda