Monday, December 03, 2007

Our harvest part III - Pesto edition

So the post title references a harvest so you're probably thinking I'm back on my hobbyhorse posting pictures regarding sustainable edible planting, vegetables, fruit trees, etc etc. Well you'd be right....and then you're probably thinking pesto = basil which means we're going to have some boring basil pictures. Right? Wrong. As interesting as I find basil in its infinite variety (I'm really keen to try the lime flavored form) today's pictures relate to another, less famous, pesto ingredient - pine nuts.

Any number of Pine (Pinus sp.) trees produce cones containing edible nuts. In Europe however the Stone Pine (Pinus pinea) is the most commonly used. Originally from Spain and Portugal it has spread across the med region due to its delicious nuts and is, when adult, a rather interestingly flat topped, umbrella shaped tree. The specimen in our arboretum is coming up to nine or ten years old or so and to tell the truth isn't such a pretty shape its a kind of shrubby 15 foot barrel of pine needles and was a bit of a disappointment. Until that is we found these:


Like an idiot I didn't put anything in the images for scale but these beautiful barrel-shaped cones are perhaps 5-6 inches by 4 inches in size. We first spotted three or four brown cones but soon spotted an abudance of young green cones too!


I'm afraid we'll have a bit of a wait for nuts as the cones take up to 3 years to mature but we did harvest three which are sat in a bowl on my parent's dining table as festive decoration. I've no idea how many nuts each cone produces but I'd imagine we'll be more than self-sufficient soon enough as I must confess to having only bought pine nuts about 6 times in the past couple of years. We grew this tree for its ornamental value and there's no disguising the beauty of these cones. Its interesting history and any delicious nuts will be bonuses.

In terms of value as a tree to plant I probably wouldn't plant this in a garden unless I had a lot of room and specifically wanted its unique shape long term. If one was planting a home orchard or arboretum it would definitely be on my list though. In the meantime I've got two years to play around with basil varieties to put in this recipe when my nuts ripen.

1 comment:

Dan said...

I have a post on my blog with a series of images that show the Pine nuts of the Pinus pinea from the cone and how to extract them.