Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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pine nut (or pi ñon, pinyon, pignolia) the names applied to the small edible seeds of many species of pine tree.

The finest pine nuts, which are most in demand for Arab, Spanish, and other dishes and confections, belong to the genus Pinus and to the northern hemisphere. Evidence of their use in the Middle East goes back to biblical times. The Mediterranean stone pine, P. pinea, grows at quite low altitudes, as anyone familiar with the landscapes of Provence, Italy, and the Middle East will be aware. Its nuts, imported to the USA, are the second most expensive nut on the market there, after the macadamia nut and in front of the pistachio.