Pine nuts are also known as Pignoli,
pine kernels, or pi?n. They are the 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) ivory-colored seeds
inside the pine cones of pine trees. The pine nut is expensive because the
extraction of the nuts from the pine cones is very labor intensive Cultivated
in Africa, India, Italy, China, Mexico and the United States, there are two main
types: Mediterranean and Chinese.
The Mediterranean or Italian pine nut
comes from the stone pine tree. It is torpedo-shaped and has a sweet, delicate
flavor. It is the more expensive of the two types. Used in Mediterranean and
Middle Eastern cuisines they are sold in grocery stores, health food and
The Chinese pine nut has a stronger
flavor with a teardrop shape. Available in Asian markets and used in Chinese
and other Asian cuisines.
The flavor of both types of pine nuts
are further enhanced when toasted, but are easily scorched because of their high
fat content. The pine nut is very perishable and should be stored in the
refrigerator (3 months) or freezer (9 months) in airtight containers or plastic
Pine nuts are popular in both sweet
(cookies, biscotti, cakes, pralines, etc.) and savory dishes.