Pine cone mezze

April 23, 2014  •  Category:

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



17 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    That must taste interesting.



  2. Magda says:

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

  3. Nadege says:

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

  4. Sare TERZİOGLU says:

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

  5. A Canadian Foodie says:

    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. Viviane says:

    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. Hisham Assaad says:

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

  8. Nadine says:

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

  9. Hélène (Cannes) says:

    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. dina says:

    very interesting. thanks for sharing!

  11. Gabi says:

    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. Coco in the Kitchen says:

    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. Susan says:

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

  14. Kirk says:

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

  15. Oui, Chef says:

    How fun! Do they taste more piney or nutty?

  16. Nuts about food says:

    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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