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Why are pine nuts so FREAKING EXPENSIVE?!

They are really delicious, but so are things that cost way less! I bought some today, and it was kinda too late for me to go back when I realized I paid like $8 for what was around a cup maybe... they were organic, but they were in bulk too...

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  1. Don't know the answer, but I can commiserate. I just bought pine nuts for pesto and I was surprised at the price. I don't think they were as expensive as yours, though. I got them at Trader Joe's, something like $8 for about 1.5 cups. Better be some darn tasty pesto.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathleen221

      Pinon pickers are paid 8 dollars a pound for their harvest.
      It's a backbreaking, time consuming, labor of love kinda job.

    2. well see, its a little known secret that pine nuts are harvested by a rare species of squirrel that can smell exactly when the seeds are ripe, but before the pine cone opens its scales.

      no, not really. but pine trees take several years before they begin to bear, and each individual cone takes about 2 years to develop. each cone must be individually bagged shortly before the scales open, then the seeds have to be collected and separated from their shells.

      I usually buy mine at costco for about 1/2 to 1/3 the price of the grocery store, don't have trader joe's here.

      1. If you've ever tried to extract the kernels from pine cones by hand, you wouldn’t ask! :-)

        The price of Italian pine nuts at my market in Rome is €50 per kilo, or about $33 per pound.

        Most people I know keep them in the freezer, BTW. I've been working through a kilo I bought at a wholesale supermarket for longer than I care to admit.

        4 Replies
        1. re: mbfant

          $33 per pound! Phew! I'll stop complaining now.

          Will pine nuts go rancid if you don't keep them in the freezer? And should you bring them to room temp before using them? Right now I have the unopened bag in my pantry.

          1. re: kathleen221

            Ours are $40 for just over 1 1/2 lb. Sick. I always keep in the freezer or they definitely can go rancid fairly quickly. You do not need to bring them to room temp before using if you will be roasting/toasting them first. If you do not roast them it does not take very long at all to bring them to room temp - minutes, really.

            1. re: chefathome

              Thanks! I just put them in the freezer.

              1. re: chefathome

                $23 for 4 1/2 cups (1.5 lbs / 680g) at Costco today (in Ohio) - they are from China. Mine are always in the freezer!

          2. There are pine nut recipes that accept no substitutions but pesto isn't one of them. I usually use walnuts - tastes just the same just a darker color.

            3 Replies
            1. re: pasuga

              I so agree. Walnuts and almonds make good substitutes (as do other herbs such as mint, cilantro, sage...).

              1. re: pasuga

                My Italian friend who lives in Thailand uses cashews (because those are cheap locally). Tastes great!

                1. re: arashall

                  Many Italian commercial brands use cashews in their pesto genovese (although usually in combination with some proportion of pine nuts). I am slightly allergic to cashews, they make my mouth and throat tingle like I've just eaten some dodgy fugu.

              2. Where are they from?

                Cheap pine nuts come from China (there are different species of pine from which the culinary seeds are collected), and in recent years have been associated with a horrible allergic reaction (Google "pine mouth"). So many people will now only buy the more expensive pine nuts from elsewhere. It may be that your market stopped carrying Chinese pine nuts.

                2 Replies
                  1. re: Karl S

                    Mine are from "Korea, Russia, and Vietnam". I've read of pine mouth being associate with pine nuts from China.