Pine nuts are often found in pesto sauce. They’re also sometimes used in sandwiches, cakes, bread, salads, pizzas, biscuits, confectionery and ice cream.
Pine nuts are sold in health food stores and supermarkets. They are widely used in in countries where they are harvested commercially, such as Spain, Italy and Morocco, as well as the USA.
Pine nuts can turn up in products where you don’t expect them. We have seen them as ingredients in a lentil and mint lamb leg joint, a butternut squash rolled pork loin, vegan chocolate tortes, and a Christmas pudding. They’re also sometimes included in packets of mixed seeds.
If you are allergic to pine nuts, we strongly advise you to read food labels carefully and be direct when talking to catering staff. Be explicit and tell people you have to avoid pine nuts and pine kernels. The phrase “nut free” does not necessarily mean there are no pine nuts included because pine nuts are in a different botanical category to tree nuts.
Under the food information regulations, any of 14 allergens must be highlighted in the ingredient list when they are present in pre-packed food. Pine nuts are not among those 14 so you will not see them highlighted.
The use of pine nut oil is rare. It is golden coloured and can be used for making salad dressings and drizzling on to dried or grilled meats.
Other names for pine nuts to look out for
The pine nut is known by a variety of other names including pine kernels, pinon, Indian nut, pignoli and pignolia.
‘Pine mouth’ syndrome
People have reported experiencing a metallic or bitter taste within 48 hours of eating pine nuts. This can last for up to two weeks. Doctors are uncertain what causes pine mouth syndrome but do not believe it is harmful. Pine mouth is not thought to be an allergic reaction.