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Pine nuts... I can't let another container go bad

It's obviously pesto season, and every summer I end up with a huge carton of pine nuts leftover (I know, I should use one of those measure what you need things, but the huge overpriced, glorified bodega in my brooklyn neighborhood is SO convenient sometimes...) Inevitably, the not-cheap pine nuts go bad as one can only eat so much pesto. (And "only eat so much pesto, means a WHOLE LOT, but still, even I have limits)

So I was wondering what you all do with the pine nut overflow...

Thoughts? Help? Recipes? History of the pine nut?

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  1. toast & use as a garnish on salads, or fold into light summer grain dishes such as quinoa & couscous.

    1. Not my favorite thing in the world (it's too rich for my taste), but there's Korean pine nut porridge. Here's a recipe for it.


      I keep my pine nuts in the freezer because I find that pine nuts get rancid very easily.

      10 Replies
      1. re: Miss Needle

        Oooh good idea. How long will they keep in the freezer?? And I love the couscous idea.

        1. re: likaluca

          they'll be okay in the freezer in an airtight container or heavy freezer bag for 2-3 months, assuming they're pretty fresh when you store them.

          re: the couscous [or quinoa]...cook the grain, then fold in toasted pine nuts, chopped dried apricots, currants, sliced green onions, chopped fresh mint & parsley, a light yogurt dressing & a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice...and season to taste with S&P.

          fresh, healthy & delicious, particularly in the heat of summer.

            1. re: likaluca

              excellent! let me know if you like it - it's one of my favorite easy, go-to dishes.

            2. re: goodhealthgourmet

              I still haven't found a reliable source for pine nuts in the Dallas area, but my daughter's Sam's in El Paso carries themin 18 ounce bags. She brings me several bags a year and I store them in the big freezer right next to my stash of black currants, both staples in my favorite rice or bulgur pilavs. Never had a freshness problem!

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                This is a great recipe. I usually use toasted pine nuts in cold pasta salads, but when I've had enough, they do add a nice texture to Israeli couscous. I make mine with olive oil, dried cranberry and apricot, orange and/or lemon juice, slivered almonds, scallion, mint, and parsley.

                EDIT: forgot to mention pinoli cookies. I grew up on them!

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Can I get an idea on the light yogurt dressing? How do you whip that up?? :) Actually just yogurt and lime... swirled into the quinoa/nut/fruit/veg mixture?!?!

                  1. re: foxy fairy

                    sure - it really couldn't be simpler. it's pretty much an all-purpose dressing - can be used on anything from green salads to grains...even fruit salads [sometimes i like to stir in 1 tsp of poppy seeds for fruit salad].

                    minted citrus yogurt dressing:

                    1 cup plain, nonfat greek yogurt [or regular nonfat yogurt drained for at least 4-6 hours]
                    1 tbsp agave nectar [or honey]
                    1 tsp fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice
                    2 tbsp fresh, mint finely chopped

                    combine all ingredients thoroughly, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

                    you can use whichever citrus juices & herbs suit your preferences and complement the flavors in the dish you're making [i.e. use lemon juice, & substitute dill or tarragon for the mint for a salmon salad].

                    for the quinoa salad, i just gently toss with enough dressing to moisten it slightly - you don't want the quinoa or the nuts to get soggy.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      YUM! Funny, I was totally thinking I would grab Greek yogurt and improvise if I didn't hear back from you, so my hunch was right! Great. Can't wait -- already made the salad, so I'll dress it tomorrow once I get the yogurt. Thank you for the post.

                      1. re: foxy fairy

                        my pleasure. if you can, post back after you've had it to let me know how it turns out...

            3. Personally, I love how pine nuts taste, so I snack on them. Freezing tghem is an excellent was to keep them; as noted they do have a high oil content and go rancid very fast. My Mother uses them in baking, cookies and brownies/pan cookies. Sprinkle them on fresh steamed veggies, on salads, or best yet, toss them my way!

              8 Replies
              1. re: Quine

                Even refridgerating them will help prevent the oil in the nuts from going rancid.

                1. re: rworange

                  yes, I fridge mine.

                  Sicilian Lifeguard Style Calamari (Babbo cookbook)
                  Roast Chicken and Bread Salad (Zuni )

                  1. re: rworange

                    About how long will they keep in the fridge? I made pesto a couple weeks ago and my extra pine nuts have been in the fridge ever since. I don't use them much, so I don't know how long they will last or how to know if they've gone bad (smell I assume??).

                    1. re: Scirocco

                      I don't think I've ever had any go off since I figured out I needed to refridgerate them. Not sure how long...4-6 months maybe. When they go bad, they taste rancid, just like any other nut that has gone over. Like stale oil.

                      1. re: danna

                        Yep, a few months ... which is true of most nuts.

                        There was an almond vendor that kept the nuts refridgerated and would pull out and roast almonds to sell weekly. Amazingly fresh.

                      2. re: Scirocco

                        As with most nuts, the way to tell if they're still good is taste/smell. If they smell rancid, they're rancid. But rancid oil won't hurt you, it just tastes nasty, so you won't hurt yourself by taking an exploratory taste.

                        1. re: jlafler

                          Actually, rancid oil can hurt you. Rancid oil is when an otherwise healthy oil turns into a transfat, which is acidic and harmful within the human body. Of course, an exploratory taste is not lethal, if that is the only way for you to check if the nut has spoiled.

                          1. re: yellowgiraffe5

                            You're confusing oxidation (which is what causes oils to go rancid) with hydrogenation (the process used to turn poly- and monounsaturated fats into transfats). They are completely different chemical processes. In fact, the main purpose of hydrogenation is to prevent oxidation and thus extend the shelf life of packaged foods. Transfats are nasty things, but as far as I know, this is not due to their acidity (all dietary fats are composed of fatty acids and various acids are essential to human health). Oxidation results in the creation of free radicals, which are highly reactive and are thought to cause cell damage (thus the presumed health benefits of antioxidants), but this has nothing to do with transfats.

                            Anybody with more knowledge of organic chemistry is welcome to correct me as needed.

                  2. Mine last about 6 months sealed tightly in the freezer.

                    1. I made some pine nut amaretto last year that turned out well. I used a traditional amaretto recipe, substituting pine nuts for the almonds.

                      (I feel like I keep making this recommendation. Extra limes? Make liqueur. Surfeit of plums? Make liqueur. Neighbor with a loaded loquat tree? Make liqueur.)

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: jlafler

                        >> (I feel like I keep making this recommendation. Extra limes? Make liqueur. Surfeit of plums? Make liqueur. Neighbor with a loaded loquat tree? Make liqueur.)

                        This is a brilliant recommendation, and well worth repeating! The preservative powers of alcohol are wonderous to behold, and the end result is usually as good as the original food, if not better. (Like my grapefuit vodka from last winter - it was like grapefruits died and gone to heaven...)

                        But I never thought of soaking pine nuts in alcohol! I'm going to try that as soon as I free up the bottle that currently contains my saffron vodka.


                        1. re: AnneInMpls

                          Oooooh, I'd love to know the proportions of the grapefruit vodka! Do you remember what you did?

                          1. re: sfumato

                            It was very seat-of-the-pants on a winter's day when we had a batch of especially good grapefruits. As I recall, it was one Rio Star grapefruit, supremed (all peel and pith and membranes cut off) and dumped in a pint (?) jar, which I then filled with plain vodka (Stolichnaya, 'cause that's what I had). Then I plunked it in a dark cupboard for a few weeks - perhaps as long as a month, shaking it every few days or whenever I remembered.

                            I didn't add any sugar, because I like my flavored vodka to be completely unsweetened. It makes a better mixer that way. (If I need any sweetener, I just make a simple syrup with the same - or different - flavors, then add it to the glass for each serving.)

                            I think I could have added more vodka for that one large grapefruit, but it was so good that I probably will use the same proportions again next winter when grapefruit is at its peak again. And I'm going to make a gallon of the stuff.


                            P.S. Just so this doesn't get too off topic, I second the recommendations for those almond-paste pinenut cookies. They're fabulous! And I usually have a baggie of toasted pinenuts in my fridge for sprinkling on salad or couscous or rice pilaf.

                            1. re: AnneInMpls

                              Fabulous! Thank you! I do think the effort of making supremes is usually worth it, so that shouldn't be a problem. So you used no pith (I know some people do for bitterness)?

                              Also, to help us stay on topic, to the OP: pesto freezes really well, so that can take care of the pine nuts problem, too. When basil is in season, I freeze a huge amount (in both regular and doubled serving amounts) so that we can have something summery in the dead of winter!

                              1. re: sfumato

                                No pith. I put one small strip of grapefruit zest in the vodka, but then removed it a day later because it was too bitter for me. (I sampled it daily to see how it was getting along... :-)


                                P.S. For the obligatory pine nut reference, I remembered a fabulous brandied blue-cheese dip that has a quarter-cup of pine nuts. Here's the recipe:


                                And check the rest of the thread for lots of other pine nut ideas.

                                1. re: AnneInMpls

                                  Gotcha. Thanks! This is now on my winter to-do list!

                                  Pine nuts are also good on top of savoury tortas. Yum....

                      2. Like many others I freeze them. I've used them in a lot of ways -- the latest toasted on cheese tortellini w/ masago, brown butter, EVOO & salt. Just playing with a quick meal. Next time I'll add some herbage and maybe a little white pepper.

                        1. I buy a big bag every Christmas for cookies and freeze what's left, it lasts all year.
                          A favorite recipe is peas, proscuitto and pine nuts sauteed in butter with salt and pepper, good any time of the year.

                          1. Good in pasta sauce or just sprinkled over pasta.

                            1. I, too, keep pine nuts (and all other nuts) in the freezer as I like to have them on hand, but don't go through them very fast. I buy most of my nuts at Trader Joe's, and usually find them pretty fresh. I have kept nuts for more than a year in the freezer, usually toast them lightly before using, never had a problem with rancidity (is that a word?) even after a year in the freezer.

                              I can't remember if any one else mentioned pine nuts in all kinds of pilaf (rice or bulgur or whatever whole grain) is really a nice addition. I toast them lightly (be careful, they burn easily) in the toaster oven, and stir them in right before serving. I also like them in light, non-tomato pasta dishes and salads.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: dkenworthy

                                When I make pilaf, whether rice or bulgur, I "toast" my pine nuts in the frying pan in olive oil at the same time I'm sweating my onions. This is how I was taught in Turkey. They stay in the pot the whole time, along with the currants and whatever else. Delicious!

                                1. re: Caroline1

                                  I just assumed they would get "soggy" if I did that, but it sure would be easier, so I will give it a try. Thanks!

                              2. Pine nut cookies!

                                Pine Nut Cookies

                                12 oz almond paste
                                ½ cup sugar
                                1 cup confectioner’s sugar
                                2 egg whites

                                Blend in processor until smooth

                                1 ½ cups pine nuts in separate bowl
                                2 whisked egg whites in separate bowl

                                Make tiny balls of the dough and roll in egg whites. Dip in the pine nuts
                                Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes

                                1. I don't have a recipe - but I love the pine nut truffles at this place:


                                  1. pignoli cookies

                                    i toss them with short pasta dishes all the time

                                    in couscous or pilaf

                                    also try pestos other than basil.....

                                    1. I've made the Honey and Pine Nut Tart that's on the cover of Gina De Palma's "Dolce Italaliano" and reported on it here:


                                      My guests liked it considerably better than I, but as I said I think that's because I overdid it on the "tasting" during preparation. And it uses 1-1/4 cups of pine nuts, which ought to make a pretty good dent in your stash.

                                      1. Salads.
                                        Bed of lettuce, scoop of cottage cheese drizzled w/thousand island dressing and topped with a handful of pinenuts.

                                        1. Ricotta pine nut tart. Did someone say that already?

                                          1. I blend them with basil, garlic and olive oil and freeze the paste in dollops on a baking sheet. When frozen I peel them off and keep them in a sealed bag in the freezer. Then when I want pesto I just take out a lump or two (I don't add cheese to pesto).

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: Peg

                                              Blending with other ingredients to make paste is a good way to go. The paste can then be used in a wide variety of dishes, sauces, marinades, gravies, dressings, dips, etc.
                                              The paste can also be added to bread dough, homemade noodle/pasta recipes, biscuits, pancakes, etc.
                                              Toasting them first adds to the depth of the flavor.
                                              For a generic paste use a neutral flavored oil.
                                              Garlic goes well with a number of ethnic cuisines and so is a good addition.
                                              Other things that can be added for different flavor profiles;
                                              Sesame Seeds
                                              Pinion nuts
                                              Roasted Sesame oil
                                              Chili peppers

                                              1. re: Peg

                                                this is genius peg. So the paste can go to basil pesto, sundried tomato, whatever....I will be doing this this weekend!

                                                  1. re: Romanmk

                                                    That looks really interestin! Thanks. I wonder if after all these years I still know how to follow a recipe? This one looks worth trying. '-)

                                                  2. These are some seriously helpful hints! Thanks all!!!! Now I think I'll have the opposite problem, instead of too many pine nuts, I'll always need more.


                                                    1. Mine freeze beautifully for at least a few months. No more rancid nuts!

                                                      1. wonerful tossed with some olive oil and garlic, quick hot saute, over steamed cauliflower.

                                                        ....and my mantra: whole wheat sesame bagel smeared with fresh ricotta, topped thickly with toasted pine nuts.

                                                        1. You could make a Torta de la Nonna - a traditional tuscan cake/tart. It's not very sweet, but great with a cup of coffee!!

                                                          I have never tried Mario's, but it looks good.

                                                          I also like to throw them into cold pasta salads in the summer. Orzo with roasted veggies, fresh basil, and feta in a lemon vinagrette with toasted pine nuts is a great summer lunch to keep in the fridge!

                                                          1. I toss a handful in lamb meatballs.

                                                            1. I love them toasted in salads. You could also make pine nut brittle.

                                                              1. You guys make me want to throw pignolia in everything! I use them sparingly because I remember hearing they're high calorie, but I didn't realize almost 1000 calories per cup!!


                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: coll

                                                                  sure - but a cup is a LOT of pine nuts

                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                    I know, I meant comparatively. Other nuts are about half that. Only important if you're watching your weight though.

                                                                2. Ditto to the fridge or freezer to keep pine nuts longer! I keep ALL of my nut products in the fridge or freezer so the Texas heat doesn't get to them. My favorite way to use pine nuts is to toast them and put them in green salads. I make a very simple salad using fresh baby spinach, sliced strawberries, fresh blueberries, feta cheese, and toasted pine nuts. I toss with a Canyon Foods Raspberry Chipotle sauce thinned down with a little olive oil. I don't have a recipe; it's one of those "little-of-this little-of-that" kind of things I mix in a bowl when I get hungry for it. It is also really good with sliced roasted chicken tossed in.

                                                                  1. 57 responses later and I'm GLAD I ASKED. You guys make me happy.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: likaluca

                                                                      Hey- can you stand one more? ;)
                                                                      I love to saute a bit of sliced garlic in EVOO, add in some pine nuts to toast lightly, throw in some spinach or other greens, wilt/cook to desired doneness, add some raisins, salt and serve.
                                                                      SO yummy!

                                                                      1. re: dumpling70

                                                                        2 more yet??

                                                                        they give a great textural crunch to chili

                                                                        i also add them to meatloaf