Pine nuts are the edible seeds derived from pine trees which thrive in coniferous forests and historically have been a staple food in the diet of indigenous people.
Currently, they are harvested from several pine tree species, with the stone pine and Korean pine being the most commonly used varieties. Cultivating pine nuts is a long process, requiring several years for the trees to start producing viable seeds. The mature cones are carefully harvested and the seeds are extracted from the cone scales.
Celebrated for their buttery flavour and culinary versatility, pine nuts are a key ingredient in various cuisines, adding a distinctive texture and taste to both sweet and savoury dishes. In Mediterranean cooking, pine nuts frequently find their way into pesto sauces, salads and desserts while Middle Eastern and Asian culinary traditions utilise them to elevate the flavour of dishes such as pilaf, couscous and baklava.
Beyond their culinary uses, pine nuts boast an impressive nutritional profile, serving as a rich source of essential nutrients, including healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Furthermore, these nuts are brimming with antioxidants, contributing to the body's defence against oxidative stress. The consumption of pine nuts has been linked to a range of health benefits, including improved heart health and better eye health. In essence, pine nuts are not just a culinary delight but also a nutrient powerhouse!