Incorporating nuts in cooking and preparing your meals and desserts is not only trendy, but also very beneficial. We personally find pine nuts to be the most interesting and easy to incorporate into numerous interesting and tasty dishes.
For this reason, we will teach you what the pine nuts are, but also how healthy they can be for you. However, there is one thing that is crucial when using pine nuts in your kitchen, and we will, therefore, make it our primary point. Namely, pine nuts are much more flavorful when roasted the proper way, and we will teach you how to roast pine nuts for the best taste possible!
What Are Pine Nuts?
Pine nuts were a part of Native American culture and diet as far as 10 000 years ago. The hard shells were used for the jewelry and decoration, and the soft inside has been eaten and used for cooking.
Pine nuts are packed with vitamins and minerals, but unfortunately with calories as well- one ounce has as much as 190 calories. For this reason, you should consume the pine nuts quite sparingly, especially if you have a weight problem.
So, what are pine nuts? Believe it, or not many people have never seen or tried the pine nuts. It is of course, quite evident that pine nuts or pignoli are the edible seeds of pines (family Pinaceae, genus Pinus). There are around twenty different species of pine which produce seeds large enough for harvesting which have value as human food.
In Europe, most pine nuts are harvested from the stone pine (Pinus pinea), and it has been a practice for over 5,000 years. In the USA, there are three pinyon pines which are mostly used for this purpose; those are Colorado pinyon (Pinus edulis), Mexican pinyon (Pinus cembroides), and single-leaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla).
The pine nut seed, depending on the species, takes about 36 months to mature in the favorable environmental conditions. It needs to be extracted from the pine cone, and then from the hard shell or a seed coat, they are in. To remove the seeds from the pine cone, you need to leave it to dry in the sun for a few days so that it opens up, or leave it on a tree until this happens naturally. You can also collect the seeds that are underneath the tree- it can be a fun activity for kids too as they all simply adore the searching games.
You must remove the shell to eat the pine nuts, but if you plan to store them for long, it is better to leave them that way and refrigerate the shelled nuts. Namely, unshelled nuts have a rather short shelf life as they become rancid quite quickly; this can happen in as little as few days in warm and humid conditions.
For this reason, you should also be extra careful when buying the pine nuts in the stores as they can already be compromised due to the poor storage. If you want to preserve the full flavor, it is best to freeze the pine nuts.
You have to be careful when eating pine nuts as they can cause taste disturbances. This problem can last from a few days to a few weeks after eating. If this happens to you, you will feel bitter, metallic taste in your mouth. These effects are not lasting but can be quite unpleasant.
Why Eat Pine Nuts?
As we have already implied, pine nuts are a great source of many essential vitamins and minerals. Besides that, pine nuts have 10–34% of protein and a great deal of dietary fiber. So, if you do not mind the high calories count, you should definitely include these nuts in your regular diet.
What Vitamins Are There In Pine Nuts?
Most notably, pine nuts are rich in the essential vitamins E and K. These two vitamins have a beneficial effect on your cardiovascular system. Vitamin K has an important role in stopping the bleeding as it helps in clot forming.
Vitamin E takes part in red blood cells production, and these cells are necessary for transporting oxygen in your body. One ounce of pine nuts contains about 18 percent of the recommended daily intake of the vitamin E and 12 percent of vitamin K.
What Minerals Are There In Pine Nuts?
Manganese and zinc are the two most important minerals found in pine nuts. Manganese is important for maintaining the hormone balance in your body, but also the connective tissue strength. Zinc boosts your immune system and, like vitamin K, speeds up the wound healing.
One ounce of pine nuts the entire daily recommended intake of manganese and 16 percent of the recommended daily intake of zinc for men or as much as 23 percent for women.
Moreover pine nuts are rich in iron and magnesium as well. Iron helps in transporting and storing oxygen in your body but also aids your body cells in producing the energy you need. Magnesium is also important for energy production, but also for healthy teeth and bones.
One ounce of pine nuts accounts for 9 percent of the daily iron and 22 percent of the daily magnesium intake for women. When it comes to men, pine nuts provide 20 percent of the recommended daily intakes of iron and 17 percent of magnesium.
How To Roast Pine Nuts
There are three ways to roast pine nuts to enhance their flavor; we have explained each method and listed all the advantages and disadvantages:
1. How To Roast Pine Nuts In The Oven
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Take a baking sheet and spread the pine nuts over it. Bake from five to ten minutes or until the nuts turn golden-brown. Do not forget to stir them from time to time as that will secure that they roast evenly.
The advantages of this method: The beautiful golden brown color.
The disadvantages: High energy consumption. (It takes more time to heat up the oven than to actually roast the pine nuts, so we recommend using this method when already using the oven to bake something else you are preparing).
2. How To Roast Pine Nuts In The Toaster Oven
If you have a toaster oven, you can use it to roast the pine nuts more quickly. Preheat the toaster oven to 325°F. Next, spread the pine nuts over the baking sheet from the toaster oven. Bake until golden-brown (it should take about 3 to 5 minutes). Stirring is once again essential for even results.
The advantages of this method: A fast and energy efficient method (especially in comparison to the conventional oven roasting).
The disadvantages: The proximity of the heating elements in the toaster oven brings about the high risk of burning the nuts. To avoid such a scenario, stir the nuts frequently and set a lower baking temperature.
3. How To Roast Pine Nuts In The Skillet
This is definitely the easiest method. Start by heating the skillet over the medium-low heat. Pour the nuts in and cook until the nuts turn golden in spots. Once again stir frequently. The process takes up to 3 minutes.
The advantages of this method: It is the easiest and quickest of all the methods.
The disadvantages: The nuts will not brown evenly, but rather develop brown spots. The pine nuts can also burn more easily when using this method.
Our Final Advice: How To Use Pine Nuts In Your Kitchen
Now that you know how to roast pine nuts, you can make a homemade pesto. Simply use the food processor to blend the nuts with parmesan and fresh basil, add some extra virgin olive oil to get the desired consistency, and you can enjoy this delicious treat.
You can also add a handful of nuts to your favorite soup, salad, or wrap. If you like, you can eat the pine nuts on their own- they make a great snack that will boost your energy in a matter of minutes. For extra spicy flavor mix in some paprika or cayenne pepper. Do not forget that pine nuts are full of calories though!