Pinones - Healthy, Tasty, American Treat

Posted by javanuddin on Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pinones are the nuts of the pinon pine tree. Not the same as the stone pine nuts produced in Italy, China, and Spain, American pine nuts are harvested by hand every September and October in the northern New Mexico woodlands.

Once they are shelled and then roasted, piñon nuts make a tasty addition to candies, cookies, salads, sauces, and pesto, or they can be eaten as snack, especially, in New Mexico, as Christmastime snack food. These tiny nuts add New Mexican accent to winter cooking with their sweet and occasionally resinous flavor.

Piñones are produced mainly in southern Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado from locally native stone pine (piñon means pine) trees. Their shell is exceptionally hard to crack, making the nuts are usually expensive. They sell retail for about US $9 a pound ($20/kg).

Both European and Native American folk medicine have long used stone pine nuts as a folk remedy for nervous disturbances, tuberculosis, bladder infections, and upset stomach. They are richer in protein than most other nuts, and the softer-shell varieties contain more primary amino acids (tryptophan, lysine, methionine) than equal weights of milk or beef. A 3-1/2 oz (100 g) serving of these nuts provides a week's supply of iodine, manganese, copper, zinc, and cobalt, and it is a good source of vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin. Like most nuts, they are a good source of heart-healthy alpha-linolenic acid.

Eat piñon pine nuts raw or roasted. You can roast any kind of pine nut in a 350°F (180°C) oven or in a dry pan on top of the stove (tossing regularly) until golden brown. Be sure to roast be using in a pesto recipe.

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