Pine cone mezze

blog pine cone mezze

There are two worlds in Lebanon: The urban world and the rural world. While Beirut residents would go out for sushi or burgers (American-style), rural folks scavenge nature for food and sustenance. Take the pine cones, for instance. I never knew until recently that the green ones were edible. Lebanese farmers in the fields like to scrape them (the outer husk is tough) and dip the tender pine nuts in salt. This is a mezze (appetizer), one of the simplest ones in the Lebanese mountains, usually served with a glass of arak (anise-flavored drink), also made locally. 

dislodging them with pole

I asked Salah, an Egyptian farmer residing in Lebanon for years, if he had tasted them. He said “sure, and folks here always have it with a drink!”; he proceeded to dislodge a couple he spotted on a pine tree nearby. Then he quickly snatched off the outer husk with his teeth (made of iron no doubt), and showed me the fresh and still tender pine nuts inside.

dup inside the cone


  • 1 or more pine cones, still green
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 lemon quarter (optional)

1. With a sharp knife, peel the tough outer husk of the pine cone. Slice off thin slivers of the inside pulp and dip in salt. Serve at room temperature with a drink.

dup pine cone green

pine cone as meze

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  1. Posted April 23, 2014 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    That must taste interesting.



  2. Posted April 23, 2014 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    I looove this, Joumana. I must give it a try!

  3. Nadege
    Posted April 23, 2014 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    How interesting! Fresh pine nuts must taste so much better than the cheap ones that come in from China.

  4. Posted April 23, 2014 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    I like rural part of the world, especially food. Thanks, Joumana.

  5. Posted April 23, 2014 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    So wonderful to see the inside of a pine cone like this. Ours are different. I always wondered how pine nuts grew inside of the pine cones. Now I want to see a ripe pine cone and how they are “shelled”.
    Love the idea of this as a snack.
    What a timely hello!!!

  6. Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    The first time I tried those was at my grandma’s! I must have been 8 or 9 and I fell in love with them. Have not had the chance to try them again, but I keep a dear memory.

  7. Posted April 23, 2014 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Never knew they can be eaten like that. They look like ashta.

  8. Posted April 23, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    This is one of the most exciting posts I read! I love how you resurrect old recipes and traditions.

  9. Posted April 23, 2014 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Tu sais, ça aussi, il va falloir que j’essaye … Mais il va falloir surtout, pour goûter, que je les surveille bien, pour les faire tomber avant qu’elles ne deviennent énormes et sèches … C’est toujours intéressant, de passer par ici …

  10. Posted April 24, 2014 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    very interesting. thanks for sharing!

  11. Gabi
    Posted April 24, 2014 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I will probably never get a chance to taste these. Finding pine trees in the right season with the cones still green is rather challenging. But I would like to know, definitely.

  12. Posted April 24, 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Joumana, I learn the most interesting things from you.
    Never had fresh pine nuts & cone pulp. I wonder if my neighbours would mind if I raided their pine tree….. ;)

  13. Posted April 24, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    I will have to just imagine how they taste. Lovely photos and glimpse into the countryside of rural Lebanon.

  14. Posted April 25, 2014 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Seems incredibly tasty, and they beat the Nordic cuisine guys by several thousand years!

  15. Posted April 26, 2014 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    How fun! Do they taste more piney or nutty?

  16. Joumana
    Posted April 26, 2014 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    @Oui, Chef: they taste a bit sour and definitely piney!

  17. Posted May 7, 2014 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    How interesting! I just foraged my own salad in the mountains (and posted about it) and am really into discovering this kind of thing…

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