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Affordable pine nuts for pesto?

AreBe Jun 26, 2009 02:09 PM

We love pesto, planted plenty of basil, and it's growing great. Thank you Miracle Gro Potting Soil.

Grocery store pine nuts are ridiculously expensive - four bucks for a little jar!

Any suggestions for lower cost sources? or for lower cost nuts for pesto you love?

Thanks Much! And I love you so much I won't make you take my excess yellow squash!

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  1. m
    mollygirl RE: AreBe Jun 26, 2009 02:17 PM

    If you have Fresh & Easy close to you, they have much better prices on pine nuts. Could also try Trader Joes.

    I watch this one cooking spot called Hippy Gourmet. He uses toasted walnuts in pesto. i haven't tried that, but it sounds good.

    Also, for your summer squashes.... Slice length-wise into thin slices. Brush with olive oil and grill until softened. While still hot, lay a thin slice of cheese on top and roll and secure with a toothpick. I use mozzarella cheese and then serve with warm marinara. yummmm delicious

    1 Reply
    1. re: mollygirl
      lgss RE: mollygirl Jun 26, 2009 02:49 PM

      There's a Hippy Gourmet cookbook. We have it but haven't tried many recipes from it yet.

    2. c
      Cebca RE: AreBe Jun 26, 2009 02:22 PM

      I use walnuts in my pesto. It's delicious and I can't say I notice a big difference - if anything, I prefer it. You could also use pistachios, which I think would change the flavor a bit more but might be pretty tasty.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Cebca
        goodhealthgourmet RE: Cebca Jun 26, 2009 03:07 PM

        pistachios are terrific in pesto (then again, i adore pistachios so i'm always happy to find a new use for them). this BA recipe is crazy good:


        they also work really well with the more traditional basil (or mint!) and Parmigiano...and arugula pairs beautifully with walnuts too.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
          c oliver RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 26, 2009 03:18 PM

          I just saved THAT recipe. Oh, wow, does that sound good? Thanks to MMRuth, I've become an arugula addict and only recently heard about making pesto with it.

      2. j
        jaykayen RE: AreBe Jun 26, 2009 02:47 PM

        you can use other nuts.

        I've never found the cheaper ones to be any good, and you can search on Chowhound for Chinese or Korean pine nuts that people didn't like, either.

        1. l
          lgss RE: AreBe Jun 26, 2009 02:48 PM

          We've made walnut pesto and like it. We buy our pine nuts and walnuts at Trader Joe's.

          1. c oliver RE: AreBe Jun 26, 2009 02:50 PM

            I've been buying pinenuts at Costco for years. Of course, the price has gone up alot and, of course, I can't remember what they cost. But a fraction of what you'd pay per ounce/pound at a regular or *gourmet* grocery.

            1. goodhealthgourmet RE: AreBe Jun 26, 2009 02:57 PM

              as a couple of others have already suggested, Trader Joe's is great for nuts in general. Whole Foods market also carries a brand called Flavor Tree that's usually surprisingly inexpensive.

              and i also agree with those who suggested using walnuts instead.

              a word of caution, particularly if you decide to buy a large/bulk amount (e.g. Costco value pack)...pine nuts (and nuts in general) are highly perishable and will go rancid rather quickly, especially during the warm, humid summer months. store them in the freezer to retard spoilage.

              3 Replies
              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                LNG212 RE: goodhealthgourmet Jun 26, 2009 03:08 PM

                ghg, I was just going to point out the same thing re: going rancid. I like to buy pine nuts in the bulk section of the store so that I can buy small(er) amounts.

                I've also used walnuts in their stead. We used to call this "poor man's pesto". :)

                1. re: LNG212
                  c oliver RE: LNG212 Jun 26, 2009 03:19 PM

                  Upon opening the bag, we always transfer the pinenuts from Costco into a zipping bag and into the freezer.

                  I'm not a big walnut fan so would probably not go in that direction. Are walnuts cheaper than pinenuts?

                  1. re: c oliver
                    LNG212 RE: c oliver Jun 26, 2009 03:46 PM

                    I buy organic in the bulk department and I think there's about a $4/lb difference between the two. For a small amount like pesto it probably doesn't make that much of a difference I suppose.

                    I keep other nuts in the freezer in zipper bags too. I never knew nuts could go rancid until I was making something with pecans and luckily popped one in my mouth first (cook's privilege, right?). Ick. Now I know.

              2. c
                Cinnamon RE: AreBe Jun 26, 2009 10:05 PM

                I would try Trader Joe's if you're near one, and after that Costco.

                1. Boccone Dolce RE: AreBe Jun 27, 2009 05:13 AM

                  If your supermarket has a selection of Hispanic spices in small plastic packets- BADA is the name I think? You can get a tiny packet of pine nuts for a couple bucks.

                  I use walnuts or no nuts at all. I love fresh basil and put it on sandwiches like lettuce!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Boccone Dolce
                    northside food RE: Boccone Dolce Jun 27, 2009 12:39 PM

                    I was just about to post this!

                  2. al b. darned RE: AreBe Jun 27, 2009 05:50 AM

                    My supermarket has pine nuts (and lots of other dried fruits and nuts) in plastic tubs in the produce section for about the same price as one of those small jars. The pine nuts are about 12 oz, I believe. I store them in the freezer. The bulk food of natural food section of your local mega mart might also have them.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: al b. darned
                      johnb RE: al b. darned Jun 27, 2009 09:34 AM

                      I was going to mention that. Many if not most well-equipped bulk food sections in "natural food" stores and the like, especially those that have a good nut selection, have pine nuts. I can get them in such a store in the small town in Western NC where I live. I don't recall the price, but it's reasonable.

                    2. b
                      bulavinaka RE: AreBe Jun 27, 2009 03:25 PM

                      Like some others have already posted, Trader Joe's is very reasonable. Costco sell even larger bags for a great price as well - I haven't compared the per-ounce cost, but one bag lasts a long time. If you store the original zip-top bag in a cool, dry and dark place, it will keep for a long time. We're almost done with our bag from last year - they're fine. There was a bumper crop of great basil at the local farmers market, so I made a boat load of pesto.

                      1. d
                        dct RE: AreBe Jun 30, 2009 01:37 PM

                        I like to use blanched almonds instead of pine nuts--they don't have the distinctive taste of walnuts and they are usually one of the more affordable nuts, at least in bulk.

                        1. s
                          Sal Vanilla RE: AreBe Jun 30, 2009 02:01 PM

                          Costco. $14.69 for 1.5 lbs.

                          1. greygarious RE: AreBe Jun 30, 2009 05:18 PM

                            I like Trader Joes - they come both raw and toasted.

                            I recently read - probably on CH - about a problem with cheap pine nuts....from here on I'm speculating as my memory bank can't definitively dredge up details: they may have been from China (sadly, no surprise there!) and the effect may have been to numb taste buds for a prolonged period of time.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: greygarious
                              Caitlin McGrath RE: greygarious Jun 30, 2009 07:10 PM

                              I remembered seeing that, too. Here is the thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/614646

                              My understanding is that most of the pine nuts sold in the US are grown in China, and this has been true for many, many years. Clearly, the particular source or processor or *something* with the nuts causing problems was off. I think TJ's and Costco have good quality control , so I hope it's not something we'd see in theirs.

                            2. kchurchill5 RE: AreBe Jun 30, 2009 05:26 PM

                              First please can I have your excess yellow squash!! I love the stuff.

                              Nuts nuts and nuts.

                              Walnuts make a great pesto so do pistachios or almonds I love them all and all unique flavors.

                              Sams club sells the pine nuts pretty cheap but definitely keep them in the freezer to keep them fresh.

                              Badia as Boccone D mentioned sells small bags cheap when you only need a few.

                              Pestos are great with mint, oregano, basil, parsley, lots of combinations, not just the traditional. Cilantro is another good one. I have many times made my pesto without nuts and it was just great.

                              1. The Professor RE: AreBe Jun 30, 2009 07:22 PM

                                I routinely use pine nuts purchased at any of my many local Asian grocery stores, and they are indistinguishable from any other pine nuts I've purchased anywhere else. I'm not sure what difference previous posters have perceived, but my experience, even in a side by side comparison...no difference in taste or quality. An Italian friend once suggested using a small percentage of walnuts in the mix too as his family always did... and I routinely do that now in every batch of pesto I make.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: The Professor
                                  MikeG RE: The Professor Jul 1, 2009 04:17 AM

                                  Asian nuts - wherever you buy them - are by far the most common so that's no surprise. European nuts are long and thin, very pale ivory and unfortunately are stratospherically expensive ($30-40/lb) now that pine nuts have become so popular. They're also hard to find outside of Italian, and maybe Middle Eastern, grocery stores. They also taste quite different, they're milder and sweeter, less overtly resinous.

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