I absolutely love pine nuts. Always have, always will. They're super buttery and rich-tasting, fill the kitchen with a sweet nutty aroma as they toast away and add great flavour to both sweet and savoury recipes. The only caveat?
! They're usually about twice as much as walnuts or almonds in the grocery store.
So why are they so expensive?
They're labour-intensive to harvest
: Pine nuts, which are actually not nuts but seeds, are the
edible seeds harvested from pine cones
. The seeds are nestled in the pine cones and have to be removed from between the scales of the cones which makes them
time-consuming to extract
. This labour intensive process explains part of its high cost. •
There are shortages of the crop
: Continuous harsh weather conditions, deforestation and climate change has taken its toll on global forests. This, in turn, is creating shortages of the crop.
Why are they still worth purchasing?
Because they're incredibly delicious!
I like to think of pine nuts as a
, like I do certain types of expensive cheeses or cured meats. I enjoy them that much more when I do have them but don't consider them an everyday purchase item. • They're
irreplaceable in some recipes
: if you want to make
a classic Italian pesto
Italian pignoli cookies
, for example, you'll really have to use pine nuts to get that authentic taste. • They have a
high energy content
, contain heart-healthy alpha-linolenic acid, and are a good source of protein. • You can
freeze them so they don't go to waste
if you don't need them all right away. Because of their high fat content, pine nuts do go rancid quite fast when left in your pantry. To freeze them,
store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 9 months
. You can add them straight from the freezer to your skillet or oven to
How to substitute pine nuts:
Pine nuts can be replaced by a variety of nuts in most recipes. The end-result won't taste exactly the same, but you'll end up with a tasty variation nonetheless. For something like pesto, for example, you can substitute pine nuts for an oily nut like
or almonds. The same goes most recipes, just experiment with different kinds of nuts to see what tastes the best to you.
Photography by Jennifer Bartoli