How to Toast Pine Nuts (Pignoli Nuts)
Toasting pine nuts is a fun and easy way of making your own homemade treats, and they are incredibly healthy to eat as well! It is for this reason that many people are choosing to toast their own pine nuts and learn about how to toast pine nuts, as doing so is a great way of making your own snacks and treats!
So, do you know how to toast pine nuts? Are toasted pine nuts a worthy food that you should start including into your diet as a snack?
What Are Pine Nuts?
When people talk about the most well-known types of nuts, such as peanuts or hazelnuts or even Brazil nuts, most of us will generally have a good idea about what they are. Pine nuts, however, are a bit of a different story; many people do not actually understand the answer to the question of “what are pine nuts” and often wrongly assume that they are a different type of nut to that which they actually are. Pine nuts should really be considered to be a great treat, though, and so adding some toasted pine nuts into your diet is a great way of paying homage to these humble but delicious little nuts!
But what are pine nuts anyway, and where do pine nuts come from? Pine nuts come from the pine tree, as the name would suggest, and can often be quite pricey to buy due to the long growing period and low yield from each pine tree. However, though expensive, pine nuts are delicious and highly nutritious, and so more and more people are willing to pay out for a small amount of these pine nuts on a daily basis. In fact, for a single pine tree to reach an age at which it begins to produce its first crop of pine seeds, it can take anywhere between 15 and 25 years that’s a long growing period for any type of crop, for sure!
Not all pine trees produce pine nut seeds that are worthwhile; indeed, while all fertile pine trees will make pine nuts, some are simply too small to bother with harvesting. This leaves around 20 different species of pine trees that are suitable for growing commercial pine nuts, and it is from these commercial pine trees that you will likely get your pine nuts from for toasting. Most commonly, the species that are grown for their pine nuts will be the Mexican Pinon; the Colorado Pinion, the Italian Stone Pine, and the Chinese Nut Pine.
The pine nuts themselves that you eat are dainty little things, and this is because they are found in the pine cones that you might often see scattering the floor in the fall. The seeds are gently tucked away behind the little covers of the pine cone; since the pine cone itself is inedible—why would you want to eat one of them, anyway the only part of the pine tree that can be eaten by people is the little seed that it gives.
The seeds themselves are small and have an ivory color, making them highly distinctive. Generally, they will be about half an inch in length and have a somewhat creamy or buttery taste and texture when eaten raw, without toasting. Alternatively, the pine nut seeds can be toasted to further develop and enhance its natural flavor, which also serves to improve the texture of the pine nuts as well by adding a little bit of crunch to the outside of the seeds themselves.
Using Pine Nuts
There are many different ways that you can use pine nuts, and these will vary based on your personal preferences and cultural dietary habits. Indeed, different cultures will use pine nuts in many different ways, but it is interesting to consider the fact that this humble seed is consumed as a part of a staple and balanced diet all around the world! In the United States, though, the most common use for pine nuts and toasted pine nuts—as well as eating them as they are—is to use them as toppings to add a little extra flavor and texture to a dish; this is especially the case when pine nuts are added to pesto or used as a salad topper. Some people also add pine nuts to sweet dishes as well, as a way of adding a little variation to the treat; this might be in the form of biscuits, shortbread, cakes, or cookies most commonly.
Pine Nuts Nutrition
Pine nuts are highly nutritious. They are high in protein content and have large amounts of healthy, unsaturated fats. They also contain a large amount of vitamin E, which is essential for health and vitality for a number of reasons.
How to Toast Pine Nuts
Pine nuts are great little snacks and have a pleasantly buttery taste when eaten raw however; many people would prefer to enhance this taste sensation by instead toasting the pine nuts, to draw out their best flavors and aromas. Toasting pine nuts is thankfully a very easy thing to do!
In order to toast your pine nuts, you will obviously need to first buy some seeds. Pine nut seeds can vary considerably in cost, and this will largely depend on the growing conditions and the specific species of pine tree; however, they will almost always be more expensive than other types of nuts, due to the expensive cost of growing a full pine tree to the grand age of 15 to 25 years before it will even begin to produce pine nuts!
Once you have purchased your pine nuts, the process of toasting them is a relatively simple one. For the best results, it is important that you take care not to rush things though and that you use the correct equipment; failing to be careful could result in your pine nuts getting over toasted and burned!
One method that pretty much anyone will be able to use to toast pine nuts is the microwave method. Ideally, this method should only be used for small amounts of nuts at any one time.
In order to toast pine nuts in a microwave using this particular pine nut recipe, you should first spread out about ¼ cup of pine nuts over a microwave plate; these should be no deeper than one layer thick. Place these nuts in the microwave, on full power, for 60 seconds. After this, the nuts should be stirred and then further cooked at high power for thirty seconds. Stir again and continue cooking for thirty second intervals, stirring in between, until the pine nuts have browned.
Beware! Pine nuts will brown and burn quickly when using this method, so you should always keep a close eye on them.
If you want to toast your pine nuts in the oven, start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you have done this, spread out your pine nuts across a lay of baking paper, on a baking tray. Do not double up the layers; make sure the nuts are spread evenly instead.
Place the pine nuts in the preheated oven and cook for about 5 to 10 minutes. The pine nuts should be taken out every two minutes or so and stirred; continue this process until the pine nuts are browned evenly and well cooked.
Beware! While it is harder to burn your pine nuts by using this method, they can easily get overcooked if you leave the pine nuts in the hot baking tray. Once they are browned and cooked, they should be immediately removed from the baking tray and transferred to a cool plate, so as to prevent them from further cooking.
One final option for toasting pine nuts is to toast them on the stove. Pine nuts can be toasted easily on the stove and is generally considered to be the most effective method; it will usually give the best flavored toasted pine nuts, too! It is also an incredibly quick method, and is only second to the microwave method in terms of speed.
To cook your pine nuts on the stove, take a small amount of pine nuts approximately ¼ or ½ of a cup and place in a dry frying pan; take note that oil is not required for toasting pine nuts and will prevent the pine nuts from toasting properly!
These nuts should be cooked at a low or otherwise medium heat, without oil. The stove method is easy but does require a little more TLC and attention to detail in order to ensure that the pine nuts don’t catch and burn on the edges; they need frequent stirring and moving, and should ideally be moved continually throughout the cooking process.
Once the pine nuts are cooked and have turned a golden brown color, make sure to remove the pine nuts from the frying pan and transfer them to a cool plate so that they don’t continue to cook for longer than they need to.
- Pine nut recipes – BBC
- 3 Most Simple and Effective Methods on How to Toast Pine Nuts – Tastessence