Pine nuts are considered one of the most expensive nuts in the world, and rightly so. Its distinct, buttery, and creamy texture and taste are unlike anything.
Pine nuts are a popular ingredient in various dishes. From desserts to salads, they can take any dish to the next level.
However, it’s not the taste of the pine nuts that make them so expensive but the labor-intensive shelling of pine nuts.
How To Open Pine Nuts?
The first step is separating the bad pine nuts from good nuts. Next is removing the hard outer shell from the small, soft nut. This can be done either by breaking them open with your teeth or smashing them with a rolling pin. This needs to be done expertly, or you’ll risk breaking the pine nut into small pieces.
A Step-By-Step Guide To Opening Pine Nuts
The opening process of the pine nuts depends on the type that you are dealing with. Opening pine nuts is related to removing the hard outer shell which is the most challenging part.
Opening pine nuts can be a daunting task—especially given the fact that there is no fast way to do it. Pine nuts have to be expertly opened one by one so that their shape is preserved and not smashed down into small crumbly pieces.
Its long shelling process is the reason why pine nuts are so expensive. Here are the steps by which you can open pine nuts easily at home.
1. Selecting the Right Pine Cones
Pine cones are the shell inside which pine nuts are located. You may have seen a lot of pine cones in pine trees all around you, especially in the fall season. They are easily distinguishable because of their distinct shape.
It is important to make sure that the pine cone you select from the tree is actually ready to be harvested. If you pluck unripe pine cones, you won’t be getting the desired pine nuts from them.
Did you know that a pine cone is ready to yield pine nuts when some pine cones are opened and some are closed? Yes, you read that correctly.
If the pine nuts are totally closed it means that they are not matured enough.
Whereas, completely opened pine nuts mean that the pine nuts are already eaten by different animals.
2. Getting Pine Nuts From Pine Cones
Here comes the tricky part i.e. removing pine nuts from pine cones. It is the most difficult yet most important part.
The pine cones hold on to their seed (pine nuts) quite strongly. Using brute force to open the pine cones can do more harm than good to both the pine nuts as well as the handler.
Pine cones can naturally let go of pine nuts by subjecting them to dryness and heat.
You can place the pine cones outside so that they become dry on their own. Make sure that the place you choose to keep your pine nuts is well protected from animals and dampness.
Drying out the pine cones takes at least three weeks. Once the pine cones are dried, they’ll open up and drop shelled pine nuts.
If three weeks is too long for you to wait and is something you are not willing to do, simply place them in an oven or heat them directly and roast them. Once all the moisture evaporates, the pine cones open up, leaving you with shelled pine nuts.
3. Separating Bad Nuts From Good Nuts
One might think that all the nuts that come out from the pine cones own that amazing texture that pine nuts are famous for. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Most of the pine nuts extracted from the pine cones are not edible.
One way to check the pine nuts is to manually shell each pine nut and discard the bad ones from them. This is a pretty labor-intensive and time taking method.
However, there is another method. Simply dump all the pine nuts in a bucket full of water. The bad pine nuts will float on the water’s surface. The ones that sink at the bottom are the ones you want to devour.
4. Shelling the Pine Nuts
This has to be the part demanding the most patience. You can’t shell all of the pine nuts altogether. Each one has to be shelled separately with great care so that the seed inside it does not get damaged.
One way of doing so is removing the thick outer covering with your teeth or fingers. This is quite time-consuming, but the seed you get makes up for all the hard work.
Another way of cracking the shells is by placing the pine nuts in a zip lock bag. Lay the bag on a flat surface. Next, take a firm object; a rolling pin is the best thing for this job, and gently roll the pin over the zip lock with a firm but gentle hand.
This might be a faster way to shell the nuts, but it may cause breakage of pine nuts. You’d still have to remove the remaining shells from the pine nut by hand.
Avoid smashing the pine nuts with the rolling pin which could seriously ruin them.
Frequently Asked Questions To How to Open Pine Nuts
How to Preserve Pine Nuts?
Keep the pine nuts in an airtight container. Clean and shelled pine nuts have a very short life span. Hence use them as soon as they are out of the shell. Freezing the pine nuts greatly increases their life span, so if you plan to store them for a long time, freeze them.
Can Pine Nuts Be Eaten Raw?
Pine nuts are great on their own. They make an exceptionally delicious snack.
Can Pine Nuts Cause Weight Gain?
Pine nuts are filled with a lot of protein, fiber, and good fats. In addition, it also has a lot of vitamins and minerals. Even though pine nuts are considered to be high-calorie food, they do not contribute to weight gain.
Conclusion To How To Open Pine Nuts
To open pine nuts, remove the hard outer shell with your teeth or fingers, or you can crack the shells of several pine nuts by putting them in a ziplock bag and smashing them with a rolling pin.
This method, though, may cause breakage in the nuts, which is why this must be done very carefully. Shelling pine nuts takes a good amount of time and effort, which is why they can be very expensive.