Today I have some tips on how to dry and debug pine cones.

Or…as I prefer to call it…how to make pine cones pop.

Okay…some will make popping sounds and some won’t.  Anyways….

What we’re really trying to do is take those recently gathered pine cones, all closed up, damp from the rain and ground, dry them out and help them bloom (pop open) to their full potential.

 

How to Make #PineCones Pop ::  Dry and Debug Pine Cones :: AnExtraordinaryDay.net

 

Pine cones are the flowers of the evergreen family.  You gotta love any flower that stays beautiful almost indefinitely after it blooms.  I have boxes and boxes of pine cones.  Many of them are from the Scotch Pine trees that used to rim my yard to the north when I lived in West Michigan.  I even have a few big ones from a visit to Florida several years ago.  I know…who carts pine cones from state to state?  Me.  Now you know how much my husband loves me. [wink]

Next door to where I’m currently living, is the home of a landscaper.  All the conifer plantings are mature, so his large yard has trees yielding a variety of pine cones right now.  I collected some the other day just after a rainy few days.

Because I am impatient, I decided to speed up Mother Nature’s process and bake my pine cones in the oven to make them bloom fully.  And because my collecting bag contained bugs as well as pine cones, I decided to roast any free riders.

I took a few cake pans and lined them with aluminum foil and placed my damp pine cones in the lined pans.  When you do this….allow plenty of room because your pine cones might double in size.  Then I covered the lined cake pans with more foil and snugged the aluminum foil around the pan.

 

Baked Pine Cones :: Dry and Debug Pine Cones :: How to Make #PineCones Pop ::  AnExtraordinaryDay.net

 

The oven was preheated to 300 degrees and the pans were placed in the oven.  If you’re looking for exact times….this isn’t the place.  How long does it take to dry and debug pine cones?  That’s anybody’s guess.  It depends on how wet or dry the pine cones are.  At some point when the pine cones were opened considerably, I removed the foiled ‘lids’ and returned the pine cones to the oven.  Essentially what I was doing was steam cleaning them.  Followed by a drying out.  Check the pans periodically…or if you get lost in your project like me, pull them out when you have baked the life out of your pine cones. [wink]

The beauty of my system is that all that sap on the pine cones melted off or melted on the pine cones and becomes a hard resin.  No more stickiness.  Yay!  Those that were really sticky originally looked all shiny and glossy after their sauna.

Now it’s time to decorate with pine cones!

I don’t do this because I don’t think it’s necessary.  But, if you want to have them be a little glossy, lightly spray them with a clear poly coat.

Yes…I can hear you ask the question.  “What are you going to do with all those pine cones?”  Good question.  There’s a wreath nearly finished and it’s nothing like you would expect.  It’s not even what I expected.  I guess you’ll have to come back to find out all about it. [wink]

Edited: Here is the finished “wreath.”

Don’t miss my post, Tips for Preparing Acorns for Crafting and Decorating.

 

Thank you for stopping by today.
I appreciate you and your sweet comments make my day.

Being…creative,

Diane

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Comments

  1. Great tutorial. I made the mistake the first time I did this to not line my pan with foil. Yup, had to throw it out, it was runind:) Live and learn, huh.

    • I came to realize the effect of baking pine cones years ago. We had lots of pine trees bearing cones by a pond near our house. I had seen them often. A spontaneous fire occurred close to these trees. On a walk later, I discovered the cones were beautifully open and much fuller than on the previous visit. I imagine they were de-bugged, too! I never thought about that but they made beautiful wreaths when wired to a form. I had some wonderful free, handmade gifts to share that Christmas!!

      Thanks for a chance to recall a fond memory!

      God Bless

      • I bet your handmade gifts were a hit, too!!! It seems that this is also why we so much new growth after a forest fire.
        Thanks for stopping by to chat, LuAnn! Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
        Wishing you An Extraordinary Day!

    • Oh no!! I bet the pitch stuck to your pan. Yikes!! Hope it wasn’t a ‘good’ pan.
      Blessings….

  2. Is this where I admit that I have soggy pine cones and was simply leaving them in the garage to freeze the critters and dry them out? Could take a while, huh?
    Perhaps I’ll drag them in tonight and give them a good roasting…though I don’t have the variety you’ve got.
    And NOW you have me wondering about the wreath!

    • No…this is the part where you have a bit of fun. Okay…maybe it isn’t ALL that exciting. But…it certainly is fun to see the pine cones “fluff” out so beautifully in such a short amount of time. And it so easy. Oh…maybe that’s the part I like. ;) I bet that we enjoy different type of pine cones in different areas of the country. Hmmm…maybe we’ll have to exchange note on this…and maybe even ‘cones. ;)

      Haha…I’m still wondering about that wreath. ;)

  3. What a great tip! I had never thought about drying the cones or about them having sap. Guess my experience has been w/other types of cones.
    Well, Diane, I too have traipsed across state lines w/huge Louisiana pine cones from our cousin’s trees. We live in MO., & we drove so…all those huge cones taking up space amongst the suitcases & flea mkt purchases…my poor hubby was such a good sport about them.
    I’ve shared them w/my girls, enhanced wreaths, decorated the mantel, stuck some in the Christmas tree branches & underneath before the presents filled in. Some I sprayed gold, some I left natural, a few I might have spritzed w/a bit of white paint. They last forever & they have been a lot of fun…plus they’re the lightest in weight of all the Christmas décor that comes down from the attic each year! Enjoy…& be Blessed!

    • In the past I never used those “cigar” looking pine cones because they were so closed up and sappy. Roasting them makes a whole new beautiful cone to enjoy playing with. ;) Thanks for sharing your pine cone stories, Carolyn!! I love hearing all the travels they went on and all the ways you decorate with them.
      Thanks for sharing, my sweet friend. :)

      May your week be filled with JOY!!

  4. You have a lovely assortment of pine cones. Looking forward to seeing your wreath!
    Beth recently posted..All Things PumpkinMy Profile

  5. I almost always bring some in for winter / christmas decor….never thought about bugs, lol …now I’ll worry :)
    Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow recently posted..Comment on Glorious Fall Weather, Scenery, and “Slice of Life” Ongoing Yard Work Before Winter by BethMy Profile

    • Don’t worry Deb! The bugs are usually minimal if the pine cones are pretty much dry when you find them. Mine were wet and even the collecting bag had bugs. LOL!

  6. Thanks for the tip about using tin foil. Love pinecones!

    Blessings,
    Sandi
    Sandi recently posted..HOMEMy Profile

  7. Where is the after photo ?

    • Haha! Sarah…this is the in between photo. From being closed they opened this much while being steamed. They opened just a little bit further, but I forgot to take a photo because I was in the midst of a project and started using them. Oops!!
      Hope your day is Extraordinary!!

  8. Oh idk that ? I have baked pine cones in the oven . foil on sheet pan .I didnt cover them though . The dryer they become the more they open . And smell heavenly too . I was wondering when you said steam them if they came out bigger or somthing . I hope you have a god day as well . XO

    SARAH : )

    • Sarah…I don’t think they come out bigger…I just think that the steam cleans them better of the bugs and I think they look prettier. Maybe it’s just my imagination. And if there are any bugs…I don’t want them to be in my oven…the foil covering keeps them in the container until they croak. ;)
      Blessings!!!

  9. I found your post at the Thursday Favourite Things Blog Hop. My kids and I collected pine cones this year, hoping to use them for crafts. I love this post about how to get them to open! Thank you so much for sharing this!
    Missy @ Dot-to-Dot Connections recently posted..Review & Give Away: Why We Give Gifts at Christmas TimeMy Profile

  10. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. says:

    You know you can never have too many pinecones Diane. I would definitely tote pinecones across state lines too! Love the drying tips to make them pop. And now I have that song stuck in my head … pine cones roasting on an open fire. Okay, so maybe those aren’t quite the right words, but it sounds pretty good, don’t you think!

    • Sharon….your lyrics work for me! [wink] I’m pleased to know I’m in good company when it comes to toting pinecones all over the country!! Speaking of open fire….it’s pretty chilly tonight…that sounds wonderful!!
      Blessings!!

  11. I enjoy pinecones also and never thought of picking up the closed one’s and make them bloom! Cook info! Thanks for linking to TTF!
    Linda @ A La Carte recently posted..What A Day!!My Profile

  12. Wonderful tips! I never really thought about preparing pinecones, but this is all really good to know!

  13. What a great idea! Pinecones here in the desert don’t require a lot of drying out, but I do like the idea for getting rid of the creepy crawlers (we have plenty of those).
    Carol recently posted..A Harvest Party!My Profile

  14. This is such a great idea! I love decorating with pine cones! We would love to have you share this at our weekly Super Saturday Link Party at http://www.madefrompinterest.net

    Thanks!
    Deb
    Debbie recently posted..Super Saturday Link Party #18My Profile

  15. What a great tip and idea. Thanks so much for linking up to Tickled Pink Times Two. Make it a pink day.
    Meegan recently posted..Field Trip Friday With Jeanette from Country Design StyleMy Profile

  16. Very interesting! Thanks for the tip!
    Jenna recently posted..Tablescapes, Fall Hydrangeas and PumpkinsMy Profile

  17. Thanks for tutorial, Diane. I have often collected pine cones only to throw them out when the bugs appeared. This will take care of the problem and I’m going to forage tomorrow..Happy Weekend..Judy
    Judy recently posted..OF CABBAGES AND ROSES…My Profile

    • You are so welcome Judy! I’m grateful that this will be helpful to you. :) Going foraging is one of my most favorite activities. :) Enjoy!!
      Wishing you An Extraordinary Day!!

  18. What a great idea! I love to decorate with pine cones and I never thought about this….LOVE this great idea! Thanks for sharing !

    • Debby…so often in the past I would pass by pine cones that were not open…but not any more!!
      Thanks for popping over and leaving your kind words. :)
      Wishing you An Extraordinary Day!

  19. This is great–thanks for sharing! I’m so excited that the weather is getting cooler and I can decorate with pine cones again!

  20. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Hi lovely lady.
    I love your Idea to dry the Pine Cones. I am new on your blog and will be coming back to see you, hoping you and your family have a wonderful week, come see me if you can.
    Diane

    • Welcome lovely Diane!! I’m so happy that you are gracing us with your presence here.
      Glad you found the pine cone drying tip helpful. Now when you see a damp pine cone you don’t need to think twice about picking it up to use.
      Blessings!!

  22. When I lived in MI I carted Pinecones home from Seattle. Now I live in WA, and thanks for the tips on making them Blossom. When I do this process I will time them between us maybe we can come up with the Recipe!

    Huggs, Nancy

    • I’m thinking you had some really large cones to cart home from Seattle, Nancy. Glad to hear I’m not the only pine cone passionate lady. ;)
      Blessings!!

  23. I love anything to do with pinecones. And they’re free!
    Cheryl recently posted..Photographs for the homeMy Profile

  24. I’ve been doing this too – it is a wonderful way to dry out pine cones. I am looking for more natural decor this year. Great post! I do apprecate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,
    Kathy
    Kathy recently posted..A Return to LovelinessMy Profile

    • I’ll be looking forward to seeing your natural decor on the blog, Kathy!
      I know you’ll have so much fun putting all your sweet touches around the house for the holidays!

  25. Thank you for sharing at AMAZE ME MONDAY!
    Blessings,
    Cindy

  26. I want to see the wreath with the pine cones for sure. I love collecting pine cones but when they are wet they are all closed up. I put them in the microwave sometimes. That smells up the microwave really badly. :) It kills the bugs, too. have a creative week! Linda
    Linda recently posted..Glittery Roses Christmas WreathMy Profile

    • It’s coming….I’m working on that post now. ;)
      Baking the pine cones makes for an aroma in the house that reminds me of the smell of fresh cut wood. I like it. :)

  27. I collect the smaller ones and they open. I take them and put wire tucked in the base of the cone. Than I take and put them in warm water so they will close. After I take them out of the water I will wire them on to the wire wreath. What this does is when the cone opens they enter twine with each other and makes for a tighter wreath. Any way that works for me. God Bless!

  28. Hi Diane and All!!

    I just found your blog/post and I’m so glad I did! Not just because of the great tutorial and info – thank you! – but also for being in such great creative and like-minded company. :) I have a lifetime love affair with pine trees and pine cones, so wanting to decorate with them year round comes naturally to me, but this year, it’s more of a necessity.

    You see, though I’m not a “Christmas-y” person (I’m a nature based, seasonal kind of person), my husband is, so we put up a Christmas tree every year. Well, this year we can’t because a few months ago we became a rescue and foster home for abandoned kittens for our local shelter as well as for those that just show up on our door step (more than you might think). So, this holiday season, we have a houseful of kittens and cats ranging in age from just over two weeks that have to be bottle fed every few hours (they just opened their eyes a few days ago) to a year and a half old – we literally have 25 cats in our house, but before you think, “OMG, the smell must be horrible!?”, know that we use top of the line litter, the boxes are done every couple of hours, the cats are bathed regularly, the cages are cleaned daily, the house is vacuumed daily, and steam mopoed weekly, lol. We work very hard to keep it clean and every stranfer that walks in tells us that they wouldn’t know we had one cat let alone 25. :D Anyhow, I digress, lol.

    As you can imagine, a Christmas tree amidst all these furry family members would quickly equal disaster, lol. So, even though my husband is not a fan of pine trees or pine cones – yes, I know he’s crazy and I’ve often wondered “what was I thinking?” for that very reason lol – I talked him into us making some pine cone trees and hanging up pine cones on strung up lights around the house as our holiday decor this year as a safer compromise for ourselves and the furry family members. So, with all that said, the sap is one of the things he hates about pine cones – again, my husband is nuts, lol – and we both are not quite bug-friendly, so this will work wonderfully to help me prepare and preserve the beautiful bounty that Mother Earth has provided for us to enjoy inside and out throughout the year and throughout the season.

    Thank you again so much for this and you definitely have a new fan! Oh and since I’m obviously coming to this thread a bit late as it’s from last year, have you posted the wreath yet? I’ve always wanted to make one, so I’d really love to see how your it’s-not-what-you’re-expecting wreath came out! :D Thanks a million and Blessed Be!!

    Wesa

    • Wesa…as a cat lover I applaud you on your care for the abandoned kitties. :)
      I recently read a tip, which I haven’t been able to put to use as our kitties are now in kitty heaven, but it was to use the wood pellets that are used for burning in wood furnaces for the litter. Evidently it’s safer for them (commercial litter actually is hazardous to their health, I guess) and doesn’t smell, and is incredibly more low cost to use.
      Haha…I can only imagine a Christmas tree with all those felines running about. DISASTER waiting to happen, for sure! I love your idea for pine cone trees. I just happened on the sap cure when I was try to make the pine cones pop and get rid of any bugs. Some of the pine cones become shiny from the dried sap. It’s pretty cool.
      Yes… I did a post on my wreath… it’s “different.” Here’s the link: http://anextraordinaryday.net/final-tribute-to-fall-pampas-grass-wreath-embellished-with-pine-cones-and-peacock-feathers/
      Thanks so much for popping by, leaving your kind words, and sharing your story. Hope your weekend is extraordinary!

      • Diane :)

        I’m sorry for your losses :( Thank you for the compliments on our care of the kittens. We sure do love these lil boogers! We’ve actually tried the pine chunks/pellets as litter, and while they do cost less, they don’t clump well for the urine and it ends up making a huge mess and stink. Though I wish there was something better for them we could use, the best for them and us is the Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal – it really is as awesome as it says it is on TV.

        Yes, a real or artificial tree would be disastrous with all these furry critters running around, so pine cone trees it is, which is why I’m so glad I found your post (I wasn’t actually looking for how to bake them, I was looking for why you bake them, and I’m so glad I did). One of the main reasons I’m so glad I found your post, especially after seeing and reading about your beautiful wreath – thank you for the link – is because I’m not a fan of using paint or chemicals on Mother Earth’s gifts, such as painting wood, unless absolutely necessary, and even then I will fight to the death not to. So, knowing that baking the pine cones will make their sap shine so beautifully means that I won’t have to spray any preservative on them at all and that I love even more! So, thank you again!

        Have a great weekend as well and I’ll be checking out more of your extraordinary posts along the way! :)

        Wesa

        PS…My name Wesa is my Native American name that I often go by unless necessary for governmental purposes. But I wanted to point out a funny commonality between us…my given middle name is Diane and my husband’s name is also Tim. Just thought you’d enjoy that :)

        • Thanks for you kind thoughts Wesa. And for hearing about the pellets, too. I wondered. :)
          And I loved hearing about your name. Makes me smile!
          Wishing you a beautiful day!

  29. Hi Dianne, I really enjoy your blog!

    Just wondering if you have any experience (and I imagine you do!) working with tree/shrub branches for indoor crafts? I’ve trimmed a dogwood shrub and would like to use the branches for some crafts but don’t want to bring any little critters inside that may have been beginning to hibernate and come out when they are warm again inside! Should I do the same as you did with the pine cones to avoid this?

    Thanks!
    Cathy

    • Awww…thanks so much Cathy!! I so happy that you’ve stopped by. :)
      Yes…I don’t worry about branches. I’ve used dogwood shrubs often…I love their red branches and I haven’t had any trouble with critters. Actually I haven’t had much trouble with pine cones for the most part. But, when it’s been wet it seems like those are the years where I’ve had little bugs come out of the pine cones. So baking them does two things…plumps the cones and eradicate the free riders. ;) If you’re worried…just run a damp cloth over the branches and you’ll get rid of anything that might be there. Have fun decorating with branches!!
      Best wishes for an extraordinary week!

Trackbacks

  1. […] yard (with permission of course!), gathered pine cones from your yard or the nearest park and made them pop!, you are ready to assemble your Advent Candle Wreath, […]

  2. […] Last year I gave up trying to score acorns (I guess the deer beat me to them.) and moved on to pine cones.  I knew that I had to think about bugs and such and I needed to dry them out…so I did a little experimenting with my pine cones and wrote this popular post. […]

  3. […] decor before you know it.  Learn what I do to debug my pine cones and make them pop from this post from the archives.  It’s a popular post lately.  Feel free to “pin” these pine cone crafting tips […]

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