Information about Pine Nuts plus Pine Nut
known as pignolia or pinon and often referred to as kernels, pine nuts are the
seeds from the cones of certain varieties of pine trees belonging to the family
Pinaceae. They are generally about 12mm/½ inch long, depending on the variety,
with a pale cream colour and a delicate 'pine' taste.
and History of Pine Nuts
Nuts are often associated with the Mediterranean region, in particular Italy
where it has been used as an ingredient for over 2,000 years. Evidence found in
the ruins of Pompeii, an Italian town which was destroyed when the volcano,
Mount Vesuvius, erupted in 79AD, show that pine nuts were widely used at that
time. Some research indicates that the species now grown in Europe, Pinus Pinea
originated in the Near East and that it was man who gradually spread it
throughout the Mediterranean.
that as it may, the high regard for these little nuts in the Mediterranean
cuisine is evident when you examine the history. In ancient Roman times they
were made into wine, preserved in honey, used in sausages and other recipes and
later, huge forests were planted as a direct response to Papal decrees.
other varieties of pine nuts have also been grown and eaten in various parts of
the world. In the South Western parts of the United states, it is thought that
the kernels of the North American Pinon tree were eaten as a staple food some
10,000 years ago and species are also to be found in Korea, China, Turkey,
Pakistan and Afghanistan where it has been a traditional food of nomadic tribes.
and Processing of Pine Nuts
are about a dozen species worldwide that are used for food, but it's mainly the
stone pine, Pinus Pinea which is cultivated for commercial use. This species is
slow growing and eventually grows to between 6-12 metres, depending on the
growing conditions. It takes about 15 years before it starts to produce notable
amounts of cones, however once established, they can be productive for 100
cones are mostly hand-harvested with long hooked poles, although mechanical
harvesting using tree shakers is being introduced in some places. Traditionally,
the nuts are piled into heaps to dry in the sun so that the cone scales opened
and the seeds could then be beaten by hand to extract the seeds. This threshing
is also sometimes done mechanically.
nuts are then passed through a milling machine where they are crushed between
cylinders to crack the shells and then sieved to separate the shells from the
seeds. The milling process also removes the germ which unfortunately decreases
the seeds viability.
nuts in cooking
pine nuts are relatively expensive due to the labour intensive harvesting, their
qualities make them worth every penny. Apart from their delicate taste and
texture, they are very high in protein (about 31g of protein per 100g of nuts)
which makes them especially useful in a vegetarian diet.
can be eaten raw, especially good in salads and an essential ingredient in
Pesto, or as an added ingredient in many savoury and sweet recipes: the flavour
and texture goes very well with meats, cheese, vegetables and fruit. As they can
become rancid quite easily, store them in the fridge or freezer, although once
you get the taste for them, you won't be keeping them for any length of time.
Click here for lots of Pine Nut Recipes