Pine nuts are extracted from the female pine cones. Only certain types of pine trees bear the edible type of pine nuts. The thin long pine nuts are native to certain regions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.
Pine kernels are very good source of plant derived nutrients, essential minerals, vitamins and “heart friendly” mono-unsaturated fatty acids that help benefit in reducing cholesterol levels in the blood.
In the wild, the seeds that drop down on the ground are generally gathered and processed. In the markets, one may find shelled as well as unshelled pine nuts displayed for sale.
When you are buying whole unshelled nuts, look for those feature bright brown color, compact, uniform in size, feel heavy in hand and should produce good metallic sound when poured down from a height. They should be free from cracks, mold, and spots and of rancid smell.
Shelled and processed kernels are also put for sale in air-tight plastic bags in the stores. Always try to buy fresh nuts from authentic sources.
Unshelled nuts have a long shelf life and can be stored for many months. Shelled kernels deteriorate soon if exposed to warm, humid conditions. Therefore, store shelled nuts in airtight jars and store inside the refrigerator.
Here are some tips on how to prepare and enjoy pine nuts:
There are several reported cases of altered taste perception (cacogeusia or pine mouth) following to pine nut consumption. It appears a few days after eating the nuts and may persist for up to a week. However, Pine mouth is self-limited condition and resolves on its own without any sequel.
Pine nut allergy may occur in some sensitive individuals. The reaction symptoms may range from simple skin itching (hives) to severe form of anaphylactic manifestations, including breathing difficulty, pain abdomen, vomiting and diarrhea. Cross-reactions may also occur with some other nuts and fruits, especially of Anacardiaceae family members such as mango, cashew nuts, pistachio. Persons with known allergic reactions to these nuts may therefore need to observe caution while eating them.