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Feb 04, 2023 0 Comments

Complete Guide To Pine Nuts: 5 Ways to Use Pine Nuts

Written by MasterClass Last updated: Jun 7, 2021 • 3 min read What Are Pine Nuts? Pine nuts are the edible seeds that are found in the pine cones that grow on certain varieties of pine trees. Pine nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E, and have been consumed by humans since the Paleolithic period. These buttery nuts are most commonly used to make pesto sauce in Italian cooking. All pine nuts have a recognizable tear-drop shape—though some varieties, like European pine nuts, are more elongated than others—and a pale yellow-white color. Where Do Pine Nuts Come From? Pine nuts are sourced from pine trees around the world. There are about 20 varieties of pine trees with seeds large enough to harvest. The four most common are the Mexican pinyon (Pinus cembroides), the Colorado pinion (Pinus edulis), the Italian or Mediterranean stone pine (Pinus pinea), and Chinese nut pine (Pinus armandii), but there are Siberian and Korean pines, too. Afghanistan is one of the largest exporters of pine nuts in the world, behind Russia, Mongolia, China, and Korea. In the United States, there are even laws pertaining to the harvest of pine nuts. In Nevada, treaties guarantee certain Native American tribes an exclusive right to harvest. In New Mexico, the word “piñon” is used exclusively for species of indigenous pines. How Are Pine Nuts Harvested? Pine trees take about 25 years to even begin producing edible seeds—even longer to maintain consistent production—and a good majority of pine nuts are harvested by hand. The harvesting process for pine nuts is incredibly labor-intensive, which is reflected in their high price-point. Pine nuts are found in the pine cone: There are about two pine kernels beneath each pine cone scale. To make it easier to pry the seeds from the more tightly packed cones, they are placed in a burlap bag and left to dry out in the sun for just under a month, in order to coax the scales open. The seeds are then removed by hand from each cone. The final step in the harvesting process is shelling: Like pistachios, each pine nut is encased inside an outer shell that must be removed. What Do Pine Nuts Taste Like? Pine nuts have a soft, nutty flavor with an undercurrent of sweetness, similar to cashews. A bitter taste can also be a sign that the natural oils in pine nuts have turned rancid, which happens if they’re left in the pantry too long after opening. Store pine nuts in the freezer to prevent to extend their shelf life. 5 Ways to Use Pine Nuts The buttery, sweet flavor of pine nuts lends itself to a number of preparations: 1. Pesto sauce: Pine nuts are most often associated with their role in enriching pesto. When combined with fresh, peppery basil, grassy olive oil, and garlic, pine nuts add a subtle nuttiness and thick, creamy texture. 2. Salads: Pine nuts are inherently oily, so toasting them is a quick and easy way to intensify their flavor for a more distinctive bite. Add pine nuts to salads for a gentler crunch than almonds. 3. Dips: Toasted pine nuts make a great garnish on any spread of appetizing dips or mezzes, but they can also be incorporated into hummus or white bean dip for a little added texture. 4. Desserts: The soft consistency and warm, nutty flavor of pine nuts makes a great addition to delicate, buttery tart crusts—especially when contrasted with a bright filling, like Chef Thomas Keller’s lemon sabayon tart with a pine nut pastry crust. 5. Coffee: In the southwestern United States, pine nuts or pine nut oil is used to make piñón, or pine nut-infused coffee.

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