Have you ever wondered where pine nuts come from? Pine Trees, Pinyon Pine in the southwest United States produces the best tasting pine nuts, extracted from the cones, Pinus eudlis.
Humans have been consuming them in various ways from a long time. Native Americans were actively harvesting these protein potent nuts for generations . Pinyon Pines (which only grow between 6,000 and 9,000 foot altitudes) offer the finest pine nuts in North America are a good source of thamine (B1), Vitamin K and L, magnesium, and protein. And one of the best natural sources period for manganese, phosphorus and zinc.
Gathered in early fall , Native American tribes in this area often made a celebration around the cone harvest in the high desert region of the southwest. Collecting the cones was only the first part of this long process.
-First you have to collect the cones in a timely fashion in early September before the animals to the cones, often higher up in the scrubby Pinyon Trees,
-Second cones are picked green and need to be opened with heat and dry conditions. -The brown nuts are extracted from the cones and they need to be removed , again by heating the nuts over hot coals.
-Thirdly the nuts need to be properly stored for the year ,so another round of roasting on hot coals is needed creating a nut that can be eaten throughout the years and also ground into flour.
With this sustainable process the trees are preserved for the next year and the groups are ensured to have a source of protein they can count on for generations.
Pine nuts are also popular around the world, many nuts are harvested in China and Europe. In Italy, the “pignoli” have been edible since the Middle Ages as a prime ingredient in pesto, and desserts such as torta della nonna, and pignoli cookies.
I think we can all agree that the pine nut is a food staples we all enjoy .
Thank you to the pinyon pine for producing pine nuts and adorable pine cones we can use on our many decorative efforts.