Differences of Southwestern Pinon nuts, Nevada Pine nuts,
Italian pignolia, and Asian varieties..
Piñon Nuts:: Euell Gibbons the famous naturalist
from the 1970's (seen on grape nuts commercials), described
the New Mexico Piñon nut as being the best tasting
wild food in the world. He did not say all pine nuts - only
the New Mexico Piñon nut (Pinus Edulis). If you have
ever tried one, you would remember the flavor... no pine resin
taste, just creamy toasted goodness. There is only one number
one wild food in the world - and this is it.
Pine nuts, are very "resinous" and have a strong
pine taste. - you can tell instantly that it is a Pine nut
- or could guess even if you never tried one before.. Nevada
Pine nuts (Pinus Monophelia) are sold in the Southwest when
New Mexico Piñon nuts run out.
Asian Imports: Pine nuts from Korea have a slightly
less resinous taste than Nevada Pine nuts, but one could still
know they are from a pine tree. China - Blandest tasting
pine nuts, unfortunately because of improper handling, or
possibly an inherent character of the species, they tend not
to store well, and go rancid within 12 months. Many rancid
samples have come across my desk.
pignolia Most similar tasting to New Mexico
Pinon, very creamy, buttery toasted flavor with the slightest
hint of pine taste... but many have blamed over cultivation
to the blanding of the flavor of this variety.
are common, less known perhaps is the fact that some members
of the pine family also bear edible seeds or "nuts". Out of
the 100 recognized species of true pines, only a "few
produce nuts of sufficient quality and desirable flavor to
make them worth eating."
varieties that have different names come from different species
of Pine trees. Pine nuts from New Mexico are called Pinon
nuts or Piñon by Law in New Mexico. Euell Gibbons called the
pinon nut "The most palatable of all the wild foods."
This is quite a compliment. Pinon is a name derived from the
Spanish word for pine nut. Pinon nuts come specifically from
the pine tree species: Pinus Edulis. They taste different
from other varieties. The pinon pine tree is a two-needled
pine which grows wild in high desert mountain areas of Colorado,
New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. These edible nuts are not to
be confused with the "single needle" pine tree from Nevada.
The pinon nut grown primarily on Indian reservations in the
Southwest United States is normally roasted in the shell.
Their availability is rather scarce, and the pinon nut must
first be removed from the shell prior to consumption. New
Mexico Pinon nuts are very difficult to harvest, hence their
development in North America is modest in comparison with
that in Europe. The Italian pine tree, with superior timber,
is larger and grows faster than the stunted pinon of the southwestern
United States. Italian stone pine plantations are well established
in Mediterranean Europe, while the American pinon remains
mostly neglected and uncultivated.
European Pine nuts
common in Europe is the "pignolia" nuts of the Italian stone
pine, grown for the most part in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and
North Africa. In Italian stone pine harvests, the trees are
shaken to remove the kernel. Once removed, they are dried
further before being processed in a milling station to remove
the kernel from its hard outer shell. The kernels and shells
are separated by sifting; the testa, or thin skin which still
covers the kernel,
is then removed. Thereafter, the kernels are graded and sized.
Superior, unblemished, shelled kernels, both large and small,
are reserved for the export market; the remaining kernels
are sold locally or utilized in prepared foods. Although pignolia
nuts may be eaten out of hand, raw or roasted, they have the
distinction of being the only nuts used predominantly as ingredients
for cooking. For many centuries in European cookery, they
have been blended with meats, fish and poultry, and have been
used in many different sauces.
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