Pine nuts are an essential ingredient for an authentic pesto, and if you have a restaurant or hospitality establishment, chances are you’re serving a dish with this basil-based sauce any time of year. Also called pignoli or pinoli, we offer premium pine nuts in bulk packaging and also in smaller, retail-oriented packs for smaller establishments.
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Where do pine nuts come from? Well, pine nuts come, rather obviously, from pine cones. And they’re not really nuts, but rather pine nuts are the seeds of the pine tree. They take a long time to mature, and once they’re ready, they’re particularly hard to harvest, which in turn translates into a premium price for these small, sweet little nuts. They have two outer shells which protect the soft center, so again, all the work involved in harvesting and processing a single pine nut means a high cost. However, the effort pays off in the most delicious pesto! Pine nuts are used raw or toasted, and if you’ve ever wondered how to toast pine nuts, read on. Toasting pine nuts is as simple as spreading them over a cookie sheet and baking at 375 degrees for 15 minutes (stir occasionally). You can also toast pine nuts on a dry skillet for 3 minutes. The heat releases all the wonderful flavor and aromas of pine nuts, and toasted or roasted pine nuts are particularly good paired with protein like fish, pork and meats. Pine nuts are also served with hummus, and as a topping for salad. They add great crunch and flavor!
Store pine nuts in airtight containers or jars, away from the heat and sunlight, since like most high fat foods, they tend to become rancid rather quickly. Pine nuts keep for about two months, but can be kept longer in the freezer for 3-6 months. You’ll realize a pine nut has gone bad because it will turn rancid and bitter, and give off an unpleasant odor.
Besides their delicious flavor and nutty crunch, pine nuts are also a great nutritional powerhouse. They’re high in calories, like other nuts and seeds, but those calories come mostly from healthy fats. Each serving gives you a boost of iron, vitamin E, zinc, magnesium and plenty of fiber and protein. The benefits of pine nuts include indications that they may help delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Not bad for a humble little nut.