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Jun 25, 2008 06:26 PM

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....