Friday, 20 April 2007

Pine cones and pine nuts - free food if you want it!

Now I know why pine nuts cost so much.

My husband grew up in Spain. Weekdays in Barcelona, weekends at their place near the coast. Understandably he has a love of all things Spanish (sort of hoping his love of Spanish females is long gone or otherwise it'll be his own albondigas for dinner!)

He has great food memories from his childhood growing up in Catalonia. One of his memories is of searching for pine cones in the local forests. He would collect bags of them, a local supplier would then buy them. A tiny amount of pesetas per kilo. He would also keep some and break them apart to get the sweet oily pine nuts out. He's told our oldest son about this and when we've been in Spain they've split a few and eaten the nuts. I asked my mother in law to bring some to England at Christmas as I wanted them as decorations. She brought 3 bags full, and they've littered the garden for months while the boys have done various things with them, played football, built pretend campfires, etc.

A few weeks ago Little spent quite some time splitting them and taking the pine nuts out. It seemed quite a lot of work for the small pile of pine nuts at the end but he was engrossed. When he'd finished he announced. "I worked for a long time to get these all out." He then proceeded to give us one pine nut each and he ate the rest.. It wasn't that he was not being generous it's just that he thought of each one as being fairly precious considering he'd worked so hard. The lesson being I guess that some things are worth it. It had never really crossed my mind how much work goes into producing the pine nuts you buy in the little packets at the supermarket.

Recipe for Pine Nut Sauce (Salsa de Pinones)
200g pine nuts
1 garlic clove
100ml olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
50ml water
3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
Seasoning (we use sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste)
Puree the pine nuts and garlic in a blender or food processor
Transfer to a bowl.
Mix in the oil, water and lemon juice
Add the chopped parsley and mix again
Season to taste. Great served with fish.


Marie said...

That's probably why they are so expensive! I love them and there are some things that just wouldn't be the same without a few pinenuts thrown in. I can't imagine my spinach gruyere tart without them! It just wouldn't be the same! Have a wonderful weekend!

Daniel said...

Another reason that they are so expensive is because, although they take about 7 years to become mature and fruit the seeds, it actually takes about 75 years for the tree to fruit enough seeds to become available for commercial sale.


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