Son One gathered these long, twisty pinecones from my parents' yard at a tree my brother planted as a kindergartner. So long ago! They're to be used in a scouting mystery craft, so the fewer spiders and sticky hands, the better.
The vinegar soak took grit out of the pinecones, so it was a good first step that I wouldn't skip. The cones float, but a wide bowl placed over them kept them submerged beneath the surface.
A good shake and then they were lined up on the foil-covered baking sheets. At 200 degrees for an hour, the house smelled like a Yankee candle and the cones were open and dry. The sap melted out of the cones and stuck them to the aluminum foil. While sometimes I'm skimpy on foil when I'm doing projects, with this project, you'll be so much happier if you line the sheet.
Now they're ready for whatever future craftiness lies ahead! The pine cones were easy to prepare and came out looking great. Until you're ready to use them, you could scent them and put them on display with this tutorial from Apartment Therapy. And what a unique hosting gift this would be!