There are some advantages to living on the East Coast. Namely, trees. Had I wanted pinecones in San Diego, my choices were to either drive an hour out of town to collect them au natural or spend $5/bag to purchase some at a craft store. Here, I just walk to the grove of trees at the end of my street and take what I want. And of course I have my little helper spot the winners.
You may think a quick brush off and they’re good to go, but I would highly recommend a thorough cleaning if you plan to use them in your home. Let’s just say that what appeared to be fairly clean pinecones were actually harboring two baby crickets, several tiny spiders and a hand full of worm thingys. Gross.
Begin by filling a bowl or sink with warm water and a cup of white vinegar. Soak the pinecones for 30 minutes.
Rinse off and let them air dry in the sun if you can. I also cleaned some funky seed pods we found this way.
You’ll notice that even the pinecones that were full when you collected them will close up. This is because moisture and cool air causes the scales to contract.
If you want them closed, then you’re golden. But if not, line a cookie sheet with tin foil and space them out. The tin foil is important because you don’t want any leaking sap to ruin your pan.
Bake the pinecones at 200° for an hour. This removes the moisture and pulls the scales back open. It also kills anything that may have survived the vinegar bath!
If after an hour they aren’t totally open, don’t fret. Take them out and allow them to dry at room temp for a day or so. They will eventually become full, lovely pinecones ready for you to glitter, glue or do with as you please!