Pine Nuts: Do pine nuts really come from pine trees?

Betty recently e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink to ask, “Do pine nuts really come from pine trees?” Yes, pine nuts (pignoli, piñon) are found inside the scales on pine tree cones. They vary in size and only the seeds of several pine varieties are large enough to process for the market. They are produced around the Mediterranean, in Asia, and the American Southwest and are associated with the cuisines of these areas. Once the cones have ripened, they are harvested and stored in a warm place until the scales on the cones open and the seeds can be shaken out. Each seed has a shell that must be removed to release the nut inside.
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