Pine nuts
Pine nuts
Pine nuts
Pine nuts


Pine trees grow in the wild, cold regions of the northern hemisphere, particularly of Siberia and Canada. They are huge, straight trees and may reach up to 22 metres in height. While all pine trees produce pine nuts, only those of about 18 species are large enough to be of value as human food. Two of the most prominent among these are the Pinus sibirica and Pinus koraiensis, which are found in Asia, Europe and North America. The principal procuring countries of pine kernels are Spain, Italy, China, Portugal and Turkey.

Pine trees produces pine cones, which contain pine nuts. These feature a tough dark-brown outer coat. Inside, its edible kernel has cream white, delicate buttery flavour and sweet taste. Europe and Asia have a long history of eating pine kernels. The nuts are frequently added to meat, fish, salads and vegetable dishes or baked into bread. In Italian they are called pinoli and are an essential component of Italian pesto sauce. Pine nut coffee, known as piñón (Spanish for pine nut), is a speciality in the south western United States, especially in New Mexico, and is typically a dark roast coffee with a deep, nutty flavour. Pine nuts are also widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine, reflected in a diverse range of dishes such as kibbeh, sambusak, desserts such as baklava, and many others.

Pine nuts comprise of numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals, antioxidants, minerals and are an excellent source of vitamin B complex. The nuts contain a lot of fats and are especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids like oleic acid, which helps to lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increases HDL or "good-cholesterol" in the blood. Pines are gluten free tree nuts.


In Asia two species are widely harvested, of which the Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) from northeast Asia is the most important in international trade. The other is the Chilgoza pine (Pinus gerardiana), from the western Himalaya. Four other species, Siberian pine (Pinus sibirica), Siberian dwarf pine (Pinus pumila), Chinese white pine (Pinus armandii) and lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana), are also used in Asia, but to a lesser extent.

Pine nuts produced in Europe mostly come from the stone pine (Pinus pinea), which has been cultivated for its nuts for over six thousand years, and harvested from wild trees for far longer. The Swiss pine (Pinus cembra) is also used, but in very small amounts.

In North America, the main species are three of the pinyon pines: Colorado pinyon (Pinus edulis), single-leaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla), and Mexican pinyon (Pinus cembroides). The other eight pinyon species are used to a small extent, as are gray pine (Pinus sabineana), Coulter pine (Pinus coulteri), Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana), sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana) and Parry pinyon (Pinus quadrifolia). "Pinyon" is spelled as piñon in Spanish.


The size of a pine nuts is given in pieces per hundred grams, which might vary from 500 up to 2300. European pine kernels are larger than Asian pine kernels.


After pine cones have been harvested, they are dried in the sun. After twenty days of drying, they are smashed and the seeds are manually separated from the cone fragments. This takes a lot of time and patience and makes for the relatively high price of pine nuts.

Pine nuts are generally only sold as wholes, as they are too expensive to chop up of to grind into flour. Other than being roasted, there are few ways in which they are processed.

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Proximates Units
Energy kcal 673
Protein g 13,69
Carbohydrate g 13,08
Fiber g 3,7

Total fat g 68,37
Saturated fat g 4,899
Monounsaturated fat g 18,764
Polyunsaturated fat g 34,071
Cholesterol mg 0

Calcium mg 16
Iron mg 5,53
Magnesium mg 251
Phosphorus mg 575
Potassium mg 597
Sodium mg 2
Selenium mcg 0,7

Vitamin A IU 29
Vitamin B6 mg 0,094
Vitamin C mg 0,8
Vitamin E mg 9,33
Vitamin K mcg 53,9
Carotene, beta mcg 17
Carotene, alpha mcg 0
Cryptoxanthin, beta mcg 0
Lutein + zeanxanthin mcg 9
* Pine nuts (Pinus spp.) are dried
"Source: USDA National Nutrient Database
for Standard Reference, Release 26 (2013)"
g = gram; mg = miligram ; mcg = microgram; IU = International Units


Pine nuts are mainly grown in Pakistan, China, North Korea and Russia.

Europe's largest producing countries are Italy, Spain and Portugal, while Turkey also participates.


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