Yes, they do come from a pine tree! Pine nuts are an edible seed, found inside pine cones. Apparently, they are incredibly difficult to extract. Then again, shelling any nut is pretty labor intensive. Fortunately, you can buy pine nuts in a bag, ready to eat, at the grocery store!
Pine nuts are really tiny nuts; about ½ inch long (or 1 centimeter, depending on where you live).
You may already have eaten pine nuts without knowing it. One of the main ingredients in pesto sauce is pine nuts!
You can eat them plain or toasted, with or with out salt, on sweet or savory dishes.
Toasting Pine Nuts
They toast up very quickly in a fry pan, which brings out their natural rich flavor.
Start by putting the nuts in a single layer in a frying pan with no oil in the pan.
Toast the nuts on medium-high temperature. Keep moving the nuts around the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula. It will take just a few minutes for them to toast. Pine nuts, like most nuts have a very high fat content. That’s what makes them taste so good! It is also what makes them toast up so quickly.
Do not walk away! Do not take your eyes off the nuts! They can go from beautifully toasted to burnt, in the blink of an eye!
Some stores now sell “already-toasted” pine nuts. They’re OK but nothing like toasting them yourself!
When I topped my portabella mushrooms and goat cheese with pine nuts, they added a wonderful texture and flavor to the dish.
If eaten by the handful, pine nuts are about 200 calories per ¼ cup. (YIKES!) They should be stored in an air tight container and will last about three months in the refrigerator. Six to nine months in the freezer.
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