HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


$30 pine nuts

I wanted to buy pine nuts for pesto, but when I looked at the price they were $30 a pound (okay $29.99). I'm not used to them being cheap, but I can't believe they cost more then wild line caught salmon! Outside of maybe saffron and vanilla beans I don't think there is another grocery item at that price. What gives?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. B EWARE, Most pine nuts come from China now, and there are problems!


    4 Replies
    1. re: ospreycove

      I suspect the reason the ones she saw were $30/lb is that they aren't from China.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        I would pay the $30.00; but try and find Pine Nuts that are not from China. The harvesting work must be too tedious for the Italians, and the immigrant workers in Italy.

      2. re: ospreycove

        I just had this reaction to some pinenuts I ate last week. Am still experiencing it actually, it was really awful and is now just annoying.
        EVERYTHING had a bitter aftertaste, and I mean every little thing. Even water.
        I keep my pinenuts in the freezer and buy them from a reputable purveyor. Going to call them and get a fresh batch, hopefully from Italy.
        I'm thinking this happens because of age. They certainly weren't rancid, but maybe over time the composition changes?
        As far as I know, noone else had a reaction to the cookies that caused this for me. Weird.

        1. re: rabaja

          I just read something about this a minute ago. It is a reaction to the pine nuts. The writer didn't think it was due to the age of the nuts.

      3. Even costco is up over $20/lb. I am adjusting recipes since this is past my income bracket. For example, making pesto without pine nuts and then toasting a few to add to whatever I serve the pesto with.

        I have also tried substituting walnuts and almonds in a few places where they are ground up and it almost works.

        3 Replies
        1. re: smtucker

          I'm lucky that I'm not a pesto-hound. Did gasp when I saw the Costco price. But because I don't make anything that uses more than one or two tbsp. ofthem at a time, I will buy soon as I'm running low. I keep them in the freezer and that bag will last a long, long time. It's not like a $30 bottle of wine that's gone after once around the table :)

          1. re: c oliver

            You are absolutely correct. I have, in the past, used a little over one Costco bag per summer since I do like to freeze pesto for the winter. This year, I am freezing something I am calling basil-garlic-oil. I will add cheese and pine-nuts later if needed.

            Just adjusting to the current economic realities while preserving the summer garlic and basil bounty.

          2. re: smtucker

            I love pesto made with fresh California grown English walnuts. They must be fresh. The pesto is so subtle and of course, nutty!

          3. I've been substituting skinless almonds for pine nuts, since they are too expensive for me this year. I agree, they are up there with the saffron for really high pricing. And I don't like them once they have been frozen....

            1. Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one shocked by the cost. And I was wondering if it was only my market (I also checked out WF which was a few dollars more.) I buy them in bulk (and organic) from my grocery market. The little baggie I just finished had a price per pound listed at 16.99. The new baggie I just got listed the price per pound as 35.99. YIKES!

              I'm still buying, little bits at a time as I usually would. But I have substituted toasted walnuts in the past in pesto and found that to be quite tasty.

              1. I am so glad I am not that out of touch... I wanted to but just a few, but from a bulk bin it is hard to control (I would have aimed for 1/3 my fist). I did the math and thought that I could still end up spending almost $10. I'll take the wine over "real" pesto. Followed smtucker's lead with basil-garlic-olive oil, and can't say I missed THAT much.

                2 Replies
                1. re: corneygirl

                  Oh yeah, I feel that decent saffron and vanilla are worth it and used in such small quantities that it doesn't break the bank. I mean there is enough change on the floor of my car to buy saffron for paella, 1 vanilla bean can flavor 3+ dishes, but $2.50 worth of pine nuts is like 3 nuts.

                  1. re: corneygirl

                    I work at a grocery store and pine nuts from the bulk bin are always in our " decided they didn't want them " basket. I would do the same when I saw the prices but do you know that anything coming from the bulk bin and rejected at the cashier has to be thrown away, such waste. Lets all be smart shoppers and help limit waste.

                  2. Maybe you guys are shopping at the wrong store? I just ran a search on my local Sam's Club, and I'm picking up a 15 ounce bag in the morning for $13.94, which makes them $14.87 a pound. Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/26l25hl I would expect the price to be pretty close at any Sam's Club in the U.S.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Caroline1

                      I have a 2 person house hold and the nearest Sam's is 20+ miles, not really worth the membership (Costco is further). Despite that I don't get what is so great, I mean for maybe $10 a pound I would buy them, but what is so magical about pine nuts. There are many other ingredients I will shell out the extra dinero for before them. I don't mean to be aggresive, I just don't get it!

                      1. re: corneygirl

                        Judging from your first post, the price of pine nuts in your area seemed to be a big problem for you. If they're not that important and you prefer alternatives, why ventilate about the price? I was just trying to help.

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          Agreed. To me pine nuts are essential at times, meaning I would leave them out rather than substitute probably. That $30 bag, kept in the freezer, will last me a year, so it amortizes out quite comfortably for me. But each of us has those things that we will or will not pay much for.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Don't talk to me about truffles. The grows-in-dirt kind, not chocolate! :-(

                          2. re: Caroline1

                            I apologize for how harsh that came of, it reads a lot worse than I meant it to. I appreciate your help and always like your posts.

                      2. I'm not sure but I have recently switched to using walnuts for pesto for this very reason!

                        1. I was shopping with my sister a few weeks ago for my July 4th party and we both picked up a small bag of pine nuts and they were around $15 or $16. Could not believe my eyes and I quickly put them back. Then I went to Trader Joe's. They were out of stock. They told me that they were too expensive to keep on the shelves. And I was there yesterday and they still had none. Then I went to Costco. No dice. I was told the same thing -- they don't carry them right now due to cost.

                          I love making pesto in the summer and usually keep a bag in my freezer. This week I bought a small package in the regular supermarket for $6.99. But I made 3 batches of pesto (some to stick in freezer) and the whole package was gone in one shot.

                          I was wondering what was going on and why pine nuts are so expensive now???

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: valerie

                            They were missing at Costco for a while but my Costco shopper got some yesterday. Didn't ask the price,though. Essential in my kitchen.

                            1. re: tcamp

                              Oh, I agree. If I had known that they were going to be so hard to find, I would have bought the $15 bag. I was just shocked because it was the first time I looked for them in a while, so it seemed out of line.

                              I will check out Costco again this weekend. I haven't looked for them there since the end of June.

                          2. An infestation of beetles is the cause of the sharp rise in the price of pine nuts from the Mediterranean area.

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: cheesemaestro

                                Thanks for the explanation. I had brief conversations with two regional buyers for different grocery chains - both had refused large shipments of pine nuts earlier this year due to poor quality, but we didn't speak long enough to determine the reason.

                              2. Okay, so my Costco's not carrying them anymore; looked on Costco.com also. Don't belong to Sam's Club. I'll pay the price but doesn't anyone know of a good source, maybe mailorder. I see online ordering but don't know of a recommended one. I spoke with a restaurant chef today and he confirmed that he's paying $30/#.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: c oliver

                                  I am headed to Costco tomorrow. If my branch still has them, should I pick up one or two packages for you? email me.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    After not seeing them there for a while, I bought an 8 oz. bag today in Trader Joe's. It was either $7.00 or $7.99. Not bad considering what I saw about 2 weeks ago at a health food store near my office in Manhattan...$39.69/lb!

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Costco just outside of Boston is also pine nut free. Sad.

                                      1. re: smtucker


                                        I'll checks TJs when I get home next week.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          TJs in Bay Area has them, but they are the pre-toasted kind. me no like.

                                          1. re: mariacarmen

                                            Really. I've never seen them like that. Idon't think I would like that either.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              they carry both kinds, most of the time, tho lately i've seen more of these than the raw at TJ. Their customers must like them like that.

                                    2. All I can tell you, before I've read ANY of the replies, is do you know how difficult it is to harvest a pine nut here in AZ? You practically have to camp out your space before hand and there is a lot of work. Shelling them is a whole 'nother story and quite frankly, I'm still looking for a better way to shell them. They ARE INDEED expensive.

                                      12 Replies
                                      1. re: JerryMe

                                        We also used to harvest our pinenuts in the pine range close to Dayton, Nv. Had to wear clothes we could toss and cover our hair in bandanas due to all the pitch. Used long poles to knock the cones out of the trees onto blankets spread under the trees. The last few years I get them in bulk at Raleys for 9.00 lb. They are a little different than the mediterranean nuts but I think better (probably as so much fresher). Hell for 30.00/lb hubs and I may suit up and go on the great nut hunt again and open a stand somewhere's!

                                        1. re: nvcook

                                          I was thinking about the NV ones and signed up on a site to get notified when they harvest. They indicated that when toasted and used in a salad that they may taste different than you are used to. Have you found that to be true with the Raleys ones?

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            Yes they are different. They are better. After roasting (in the shell) DH eats them like sunflower seeds. They aren't as hard (the nut meat) as the Med. ones and I like the flavor better. Raley's doesn't have them here yet, but yesterday there was a truck in their parking lot selling them. I was in a hurry so didn't check the price out. The appearance of the truck tells me the season is soon upon us. The Nv pinenuts also seem to be larger than pignolis. I'm wondering if passadumkeg has them in N.M. I wouldn't be surprised. They are a fall favorite at our house. The house smells incredible while they roast also. If you buy some, c oliver, roast in the shell at 325 for only about 12 to 15 min. you will hear them start to pop. Remove from oven and lightly salt. Or just peel them and use from cooking purposes.

                                            1. re: nvcook

                                              My late FIL used to roast them and we'd scarf 'em down. If I buy them raw and in the shell, would you roast them and freeze them or freeze them raw or something else? The site I looked at was suggesting freezing in Food Savers bags.
                                              PS: Did you contact Steve Timko?

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                We used to freeze them in coffee cans before roasting and still in the shell (goodness, the days of 8 cans in the freezer *sigh*). Why should I contact Steve Timko? just curious.

                                                1. re: nvcook

                                                  I think I'm going to do that. Check the SW board.

                                                  1. re: nvcook

                                                    Steve's a Reno 'hound. Might have a contact.

                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                Now I'm wondering if toasting them OUT of the shell would make them more the texture of the Mediteranean ones. hmmmm

                                                1. re: nvcook

                                                  BTW, hubby and I have never suffered from the dreaded pine nut mouth talked about here on another thread after 45+ years of eating the Nv grown ones.

                                              3. re: nvcook

                                                I just got an email from these people after signing up to be notified:


                                                I haven't tried to check them out yet but 1# price is good.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  That's a pretty good price. I wonder if they are out of Carson City. My experience is that they freeze well so the large amount would be fine. And, as we've both stated, eating them out of hand is addicting.

                                                  1. re: nvcook

                                                    We're going to be in Reno Tues/Weds. (Chowdown with S. Timko et al) and I'm going to look at what's available. I just noticed that 1# they charge shipping, larger amounts no. But a # will last me a year probably. But nvcook, thanks for the heads up and the education.

                                            2. My "Diamond of California" 4 oz. bag of pine nuts was $7. I just read all the fine print on the back - product of China.

                                              8 Replies
                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                Shhhhhh, don't tell anyone, okay? I use LOTS of products from China. Non-PC-pinenuts. Who'd a thunk?

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  But Diamond of California? I feel like I was Shanghai'd with a cubic zirconia.

                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    Ah, gotcha. That could probably be a thread, couldn't it? I bet there are a number of those. Gotta think on that one.

                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                      no Pinons in California except a few on the east side of the Sierra. New Mexico, Santa Margarita area, grows Pinons and the nuts are wonderful. I bought them while in the eastern AZ mtns.

                                                    2. re: c oliver

                                                      The issue with pine nuts being from china isn't a PC issue, it's the bitterness issue discussed above-some/many of the pine nuts being imported from China are an inedible variety that cause a horrible bitter taste for days afterwards. I had this last year and it was awful. I imagine this is one reason they are expensive or unavailable-the Chinese ones were cheaper, but retailers won't buy from cpChina until they can be guaranteed they are getting the right kind.

                                                      1. re: girlwonder88

                                                        There is a lot of mis-labeling aat the retail level the only way to spot
                                                        Chinese Pine Nuts is they tend to be fatter and shorter than The Italian,
                                                        Muuch to my dismay I have eliminated Pine Nuts from my pantry after a friend got "Pine Mouth", she could not taste for about 2 weeks.I think the reason for not finding them on the store shelves is many corporate buyers, responsible buyers, are heeding the complaints and medical questions.

                                                    3. re: Veggo

                                                      Yes, I just saw some garlic that was labeled in big letters with a name that included "California" and then in small print "product of China" -- I try to buy garlic from the farmers' market whenever possible, or look for garlic with roots on them (imported garlic does not include roots). Again, it's not just a matter of eating local, but the fact that variety of garlic grown in China doesn't taste as good.

                                                    4. I remember complaining about $30/lb pinenuts back in August in another thread, but never got the same feedback/explanations as i'm finding here - so thanks. I live in San Francisco, and most places around here just stopped carrying them, but they've come back now, and my little local Latino grocery store carries them for $13.99 a pound. Much more reasonable, and I can again keep them in stock.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                        Toasted Hazelnuts work just fine....


                                                      2. The only place I've been able to find Mediterranean pine nuts is at nutsonline. At 16.99 for 8 oz, they are indeed pricey. But for some things, I do want them; I use small amts. at a time, and they keep very well in the freezer.

                                                        1. Hey corneygirl you're spending way too much for vanilla, can't do too much for saffron.

                                                          1. Cheapest pine nuts where I live are $40 per pound.

                                                            1. omg! i nibbled on some pine nuts while putting them into a quinoa salad i made. Had an annoying metallic taste in my mouth for a few weeks and did not know why! Can't believe that pine nuts can cause this! Well, no more for me, thanks.

                                                              1. I buy them in costco and keep them in the freezer (now I have to check if they're from china!!!)

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: pitagirl

                                                                  The pine nuts at CostCo near me (San Diego) are indeed from China. I took 'em out of my basket & put back on the shelf for that reason alone, not even about the price.

                                                                2. Just back from WF and $39.99 on sale today for 34.99....and did check ones in freezer from Costco and they are product of China.....and yes..not making those pine nut cookies..and I have pesto w/ pine nuts in the freezer made up..last time did check w/ Costco they were 30.00/lb. I suspect not too many people buying them at this price..not going to buy them again til the price is back in line..will substitute something else..will do without...love them..but too many other things can bake/cook...

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: fastfeasts

                                                                    When I bought at Costco in the last couple of months, the cost was about $17/# IIRC. Don't forget the bag is larger than a #.

                                                                  2. Korea is known for their pine nuts and they are expensive there too. They harvest pine nuts by climbing the trees. The climber climbs the tree with just that band around his waist and the tree. It's dangerous. That's why it's so expensive.

                                                                    a nice substitute for pine nuts for pesto is cashews. It makes the pesto more rich and sweeter.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. I sub sunflower seeds or walnuts these days, the job has gone down the tubes.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Floridagirl

                                                                        My Costco stopped carrying them because of the cost. I've switched to walnuts and pecans for my Italian meatballs, but also find pistachios are really yummy in pesto--and such a pretty color.

                                                                      2. As mentioned upthread by cheesemaestro, there's a crisis due to a widespread infestation in Europe.

                                                                        However, the critter being blamed isn't strictly speaking a beetle, but rather a true bug.
                                                                        Leptoglossus occidentalis

                                                                        Scary stuff

                                                                        1. Here's some epic pine nut action from Dotch...I wonder how much these pine nuts cost per pound? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShnYdi...

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: joonjoon

                                                                            I did a quick search, and it's less than $60 per kilogram. That would make the price around $27 per pound.

                                                                          2. I can never bring myself to pay for pine nuts. I've always used slivered almonds in my pesto and I love it that way!