Living in San Diego, the idea of a white Christmas doesn’t much appeal to me. You’d think that I’d long for snow and warm fires, but really, that sounds miserable to me. My body knows it’s winter when it’s 55 degrees during the day. We actually do get very cold mornings and nights (we are a desert, don’t forget!), but I’m just fine with no snow. I do, however, love everything pine and cony and brown, and we DO have pine trees in San Diego. This year, I decided to finally start collecting pine cones when I’d see them so use for decorations. I hoarded them. I am absolutely a pine cone hoarder. One time, the boyfriend and I went to dinner in his neighborhood, and just up the hill from the restaurant, there was a house with what must have felt like hundreds of pine cones at the time (still not enough). He stood there, mortified, as I ran gleefully, picking up pine cones like it was cash money. I may or may not have stopped by that house two or three more times in the months that past.
To clean these suckers, you have to devote a good amount of time – but it’s totally worth it. There are bugs and dust and pine nuts (which kind of look like half-moth bodies) and it’s pretty messy.
- Soak the pine cones in a bucket of water and vinegar. I used about a cup of vinegar for a small bucket. I let mine soak for at least a couple of hours because I REALLY don’t like bugs.
- To dry: either set them out and allow them to dry. This takes DAYYYYYYS. SO. MANY. DAYS. I don’t have patience for that. I did it once and never again. The other way is to bake them at a really low temperature (I did 200) for several hours. Once again, I don’t have patience for that but I will take hours over days. You’ll notice after soaking in your vinegar/water, your pine cones will have closed up, like this:
3. If you are going to bake them, don’t over-bake them because they will be very brittle, making them much easier to break as you’re using them.
There is so much you can do with these! Look at these amazing creations (all from Pinterest!).
This is what I decided to do with my bounty of pine cones.