What are Pine Nuts?

Genus Pinus 

Also known as Piñon, Pinoli (Italy), Pignoli (USA), Piñon Nuts, Four-leaf, Pinyon Pine, Nut Pine, Indian Nuts

Pine nuts are the edible seeds (nuts) extracted from the dried pine cones of about 20 different species of pine trees occurring in Europe, China, Middle East and North and South America. Pine trees belong to the genus Pinus of the family Pinaceae.

These edible nuts, vary in size from an orange pit size (American and Mexican Pine trees) to more than 2-inches (5cm) long, from South American Pine trees.

Here are some of the common species that produce pine nuts

  1. European Pine or Stone Pine  – Pinus pinea (produces most European pine nuts)
  2. Korean Pine – Pinus koraiensis (most important in international trade)
  3. Russian Pine – Pinus sibirica 
  4. Swiss Pine – Pinus cembra
  5. North America – Colorado pinyon (Pinus edulis), single-leaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla), and Mexican pinyon (Pinus cembroides).
  6. The Nevada Soft Shell Pine Nut– Pinus monophylla 

Source: WIKI.

Production of Pine Nuts

Russia is the largest producer of Pinus sibirica nuts in the world. Other large producers are Mongolia (more than 10,000 tonnes/year), Korea and Afghanistan. Most of the pine nuts are exported to China. WIKI.

How are they harvested?

The pine cones that bear the nuts are dried to free the nuts. The nuts are enclosed in shells. These shells are cracked to release the pine nuts (kernels). Pine nuts are very expensive because they are small and the process of extraction is laborious.

By Prosthetic Head [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

Nutrition of Pine Nuts

In general, pine nuts are rich in thiamin, iron and magnesium.

European species of pine nuts are richer in proteins and lower in fat than American pines, that have more vitamins and minerals.

100g shelled pine nuts has the following:

  • 673 calories 
  • Carbohydrate: 13.1g (starch 1.4g, sugar 3.6g, Fibre 3.7g)
  • Fat: 68.4g (saturated 4.9g), monounsaturated: 18.7g, poly-unsaturared: 34.1g)
  • Protein: 13.7g; Water: 2.3g
  • RDA of vitamins: Thiamin 35%; Niacin B3 29%; vitamin K 51%; vitamin E 62%
  • RDA of Minerals: Copper 65%; Iron 42%; Magnesium: 71%; Manganese: 419%; Phosphorous: 82%; Zinc: 67%

Culinary Use of Pine Nuts

Pine nuts have been eaten in Europe since Paleothic period. They are used as an ingredient in meat, fish, lads, vegetable dishes, and baked goods.

They are a component of Italian pesto sauce; American Pignoli cookies (made of almond flour and topped with pine nuts and Baklava. In the Middle East, they are used as an ingredients in Kibbeh, Sambusak.

Pine nuts can be pressed to extract pine nut oil. It has a mild nutty flavour.

Slender ivory Pigonoli are an important cooking ingredient in the Mediterranean region. It;s the most widely available and is sold shelled.

American Piñons-from the American southwest. Have been a staple of the Native Americans since ancient times. They are sold shelled or unshelled.

Taste Disturbance

Pine nuts can cause taste disturbance (a bitter metallic and unpleasant taste).

myfavouritepastime.com Last Updated: September 21, 2018.

Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

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