Pine cones serve as a protective cover for pine nuts, a key ingredient in pesto. But the cones themselves can also be prepared in delicious ways. In Russia and Georgia, they’re cooked into sweet preserves believed to ease asthma, bronchitis, and other health issues.
Cooks use small, soft green cones, typically gathered in May or June, rather than the large, brittle brown ones you might see in a Christmas centerpiece. So while there are whole pine cones in the finished syrupy concoction, they’re easy to chew. Often consumed by the spoonful, the preserves have a distinct forest flavor, and even the most ardent tree-huggers may be unable to shake the association with Pine-Sol. (One company says its product has a “rich taste of pine needles and tar.”)
Need to Know
You can find pine cone preserves, sometimes called “pine cone honey,” in Siberia and the towns of Borjomi and Abastumani in Georgia. Look for pictures of pine cones on the jar. If you'd like to make your own, you can try this recipe. Please note: If you are foraging for your own pine cones, make sure you know what kind of tree you're harvesting cones from, as some are poisonous.
Where to Try It
Tsentralnyy RynokChekhova st., 22, Irkutsk, 664003, Russia
This food market carries plenty of local specialties, including pine cone preserves.