Pine Nut iT UP!
Pine Nuts! Ahh, the Buttery Crunch!!
Pine nuts have been around for donkey’s years - our ancestors were nibbling on them 2 ½ million years ago! The kernels are the edible little seed from inside............pine cones! No way, homes. Yes, man, it's true ;) While all pine trees can produce pine nuts, or 'pinyons' - there's only a handful of species that produce large enough nuts for humans to feel as though they're worth the mighty effort it takes to harvest them!
Those pine trees are found mainly in Asia, Europe and North America, as they grow best in the cool humidity of the wild taiga forests of the northern hemisphere, particularly in China, Siberia and Canada. They are huge, straight evergreen trees with a large trunk which can reach a majestic 100 feet. Pine for the blue sky, sunshine!
"Pine nuts can be pretty expensive compared to some other nuts and seeds, and that's for many reasons, as it can take the 'fruit' to mature from flower to kernel up to 7 seasons!"
It's also not the easiest or quickest thing in the world to get the pine nut out of the cone (before the squirrels do!) The whole cone needs to be collected and dried in the sun, then smashed and shaken, before embarking on the lengthy process of finding the little gems within the woody 'petal' fragments – only to then realise that each little piper also has its own individual, thick dark shell to crack open as well! #stopit. With all this done by hand, you can mebbies imagine why the tiny nuts o' the pine can cost a small goldmine! :)
Once released from their shell though, they are a rich, resinous tasting delicacy - both sweet and buttery, and with a satisfying crunch. Nutritionally, pine nuts are an excellent source of essential minerals, vitamins and heart-friendly monounsaturated fatty acids which can help to reduce cholesterol levels in the blood. Pine nuts contain pinoleic acid - found exclusively in the seeds of pines - which makes you feel satiated faster, so can assist with weight loss, too. A plush source of antioxidants, in particular the essential mineral manganese, which puckers up your bones, skin and blood sugar levels. That’ll do just pine, pal!
Pine nuts are also very rich in Vitamin A and lutein, both of which are known to support sharper vision. You know, for when you're bustin' around the forest at dusk, hunting down your own pine nuts for supper... just like your pine-nut-piping ancestors did back in the paleolithic period......Pow!
"Yes, pine nuts have been a dietary staple for thousands of years, and in Native American tribes they would grind the nuts into flour to make savoury bread – as well as use the hard outer shell for jewellery. Inventive!"
Pine nuts can also be made into a beautiful oil for cooking, yet the most popular ways to use the kernels is to sprinkle them, lightly toasted, onto pasta, salads, and other savoury dishes. They are also delicious incorporated into breads and baked treats, and of course are the key ingredient in pesto.
So, get ya basil out to feel fuller faster, and mash'a bunch of pine-tree-cone-nuts then splash that, rich green paste on some wholemeal pasta, Kernel Rasta! :)