Piñons are the abundant trees that add color to our desert landscape. They have a fragrant pine aroma and produce pine cones that are filled with nuts that can be harvested and roasted. The cones take over a year to mature, but once they are ready there are two ways to extract the nuts from the cone. One way is to expose the cone to heat and wait about 20 days for the cone to completely opens up. The other is the process that I participated in.
The Pedros allowed me to travel with them to Wheatsfields, AZ to go piñon picking. We went after school into the mountains to do our picking. There had been wind, rain and hail the Friday before, causing many of the cones to fall from the trees to the ground. We found a spot with many pine cones and began the picking process.
Begin the process by wearing old clothing, drinking some water, and bring a good sized container and a smaller one to use while on the ground to pick the nuts. The best nuts to pick are a nice golden brown color. Make sure you have knee pads, and a lot of pain relieve medicine, as you will be bending down to pick up those little nuts. Choose the golden brown colored nuts and avoid the white ones. I did not know the difference but learned that the white ones are old seeds and may not contain anything. When you come across a cone you hit them with a stick to knock out the seeds. Avoid using your hands--the sap is hard to get off and your fingers stick to everything. It is nice to have something to help you get up; after kneeling on the ground for a long time it may be hard to get up. When finished picking, rub your hands in sand to help remove the sap.
It was relaxing, being in the woods. Solitude. Peaceful. No noise from the road and just the beauty of God’s creation. We finished picking the piñons and headed home. Now for the next step in the process.