Pine nuts

Corzhens

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When we had buffet lunch in a hotel, we noticed the garnishings of the steak. We usually buy pine nut when we go abroad particularly in Hongkong where it is cheaper. There was pine nut. That's the favorite nut of my husband. Until now we still don't know where that nut comes from. Is it really from the pine tree or pine cone? Can anyone enlighten us on that?
 

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They do come from pine cones hence why they are called pine nuts.
There are about 20 species of pine trees whose seeds are large enough to be of worth while collecting for human consumption, so read that as economically viable (for the size).
 

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When we had buffet lunch in a hotel, we noticed the garnishings of the steak. We usually buy pine nut when we go abroad particularly in Hongkong where it is cheaper. There was pine nut. That's the favorite nut of my husband. Until now we still don't know where that nut comes from. Is it really from the pine tree or pine cone? Can anyone enlighten us on that?

Yes, they are the edible seeds from a pine cone. There are various types, depending on where you are in the world. In Asia, for example, Korean Pine is one type. In Europe, Stone Pine (shown below)

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StonePine.jpg
 

Bakemehappy

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I had never used them before nor have I ordered something in the restaurant that came with it. I wonder if these are mainly used for garnish or do they really add some flavor to the steak as you ( OP ) have mentioned. The closest I could get to using nuts on my cooking is peanut oil which is quite not common in my sphere. I do love the oriental appeal it renders on my stir fry though.
 

Corzhens

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Gee, thanks very much for the info especially for the pic, @morning glory. I really appreciate that. At least now we already know where the pine nut is from. And maybe it is difficult to harvest that's why it is one of the most expensive nut. One vendor told us, although she was not sure, that the pine nut gatherers would climb a very high tree. But she couldn't say if that is indeed the pine tree.
 

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Not only are they difficult to harvest but the nuts take 2-3 years to develop on the tree, so you don't actually know if you have a good harvest and what is being picked now, in 2015 was a flower on a pine tree back in 2012.
 

ChanellG

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Pine nuts are expensive here and I rarely buy them, but someone at work just told me yesterday of a good place to get them at the best price. I've never thought about where they come from, but it makes sense that it would be the pine cone. I'm going to have to start dissecting fallen cones to see if they have any nuts in them. I remember pine seed having "wings" - I never connected those with pine nuts. When you look closely though, you can see the nut!

pine-seeds.jpg
 

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Pine nuts are expensive here and I rarely buy them, but someone at work just told me yesterday of a good place to get them at the best price. I've never thought about where they come from, but it makes sense that it would be the pine cone. I'm going to have to start dissecting fallen cones to see if they have any nuts in them. I remember pine seed having "wings" - I never connected those with pine nuts. When you look closely though, you can see the nut!

pine-seeds.jpg
you have to get the nut out of a hard shell first... that is another reason for the expense. Think how small that nut is going to be having cracked open that hard shell. It is no different to any other nut, hazelnut, almond, brazil, etc.
 

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I had never used them before nor have I ordered something in the restaurant that came with it. I wonder if these are mainly used for garnish or do they really add some flavor to the steak as you ( OP ) have mentioned. The closest I could get to using nuts on my cooking is peanut oil which is quite not common in my sphere. I do love the oriental appeal it renders on my stir fry though.

You never had Pesto?!!
 

ChanellG

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you have to get the nut out of a hard shell first... that is another reason for the expense. Think how small that nut is going to be having cracked open that hard shell. It is no different to any other nut, hazelnut, almond, brazil, etc.

So after you peel the wing thing off, there's a shell? Hardly seems worth it for something so small does it? Someone must have been terribly hungry to go through the trouble in the first place, though it's good for us that they did! I have to remember to go to the place someone told me about this weekend and pick up a package. She said they had the best price in town on them, but you likely have to get a large quantity.
 

Food4thought

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you have to get the nut out of a hard shell first... that is another reason for the expense. Think how small that nut is going to be having cracked open that hard shell. It is no different to any other nut, hazelnut, almond, brazil, etc.
I believe there is a particular species of pine tree that produces the sort of pine nuts used in cooking. I tried to extract some once when I picked a cone containing these nuts. It was not easy to get the edible part out, so I can appreciate why they are expensive. I do like the taste which reminds me of the scent of pine.
 

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Toasted pine nuts are one of life's pleasures soft crispy and oily
They are one of the ingredients of pesto make a great paste for cooking on fish or chicken
 

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So after you peel the wing thing off, there's a shell? Hardly seems worth it for something so small does it? Someone must have been terribly hungry to go through the trouble in the first place, though it's good for us that they did! I have to remember to go to the place someone told me about this weekend and pick up a package. She said they had the best price in town on them, but you likely have to get a large quantity.
yep - you got it, that paper wing encases a hard shell inside of which there is a nut, all wrapped up inside a cone...

I believe there is a particular species of pine tree that produces the sort of pine nuts used in cooking. I tried to extract some once when I picked a cone containing these nuts. It was not easy to get the edible part out, so I can appreciate why they are expensive. I do like the taste which reminds me of the scent of pine.
As stated previously, there are around 20 species (from around the world) that grow pine nuts to a size that is viable to collect. There are many more that produce pine nuts which are considered too small to collect to be profitable, but that does not mean they are not worth it if you are harvesting them for yourself.
They do come from pine cones hence why they are called pine nuts.
There are about 20 species of pine trees whose seeds are large enough to be of worth while collecting for human consumption, so read that as economically viable (for the size).
 
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