Evil Chinese Pine Nuts

This is not a tirade against Pine Nuts because I love fresh roasted pine nuts in my arugula salads. In fact, they’re the best part of said favorite salad. However, I came across a problem recently, which I had never exerienced before. It wasn’t grave, but it became increasingly concerning over the past few days: A bitter, metallic aftertaste in my mouth when ever I had finished eating anything.

I honestly thought for whatever reason that something in my diet from the old Vit D and Fish Oil to my new broth beverage routine was to blame, but NO. It was the pine nuts I had in my salad from over 4 days ago. It didn’t just strike, but I wasn’t overly aware of this unagreeable flavor until two days ago. Ruining my beautiful, primal meals… even my girlfriend’s amazing meat sauce was an apparently common syndrome known as “Pine Mouth”.

After some research, I came across several reports, stating that a recent influx of Chinese imported Pine Nuts were possibly the route of the cause, but it’s difficult to pinpoint because they’re indentical in appearance. Here’s an excerpt from an NPR article:

… there’s another theory about what causes the bitter taste: Chinese imports. Researchers in Switzerland recently did a chemical analysis of imported pine nuts and identified two species that have not traditionally been part of the food supply.

“One was the Chinese White Pine and the other was the Chinese Red Pine,” said Munk. So the second theory is that Pine Mouth is caused by an inedible species of pine nuts that have made it onto the market.

The problem is, there’s no way for most consumers to tell. They look the same on the salad, so you might want to approach these nuts with a little caution.

Oh, joy. Yet another nut, which needs to be scrutinized (re: origin) before purchased. Added to the list among cashews from Thailand or India, which are likely rancid because of the long voyage to the US market and are most certainly irradiated before entering US soil. That’s why Trader Joe’s was able to sell Pine Nuts for so much less I suppose.

Caveat Emptor!


About Primal Pig

“Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.” -Hippocrates I'm 28 years old, living in Boston. I studied international business and culinary arts. I try to incorporate my experience abroad, nutritional research and ancient culinary traditions in my life. I'm not trying to change the world, but I'm taking charge of how I make my way through. Interested in paleo / primal living, or just tired of convention wisdom? Go ahead and question away.. many people don't have enough questions! Too many "whatever you say" answers, accepting "experts" regurgitated "knowledge". If you're curious about other nutritional / lifestyle options, let me know. If I don't know exactly what you need, I can at least point you in the right direction.
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2 Responses to Evil Chinese Pine Nuts

  1. Richard says:

    That’s kind of disturbing. I can’t say I recall ever getting “Pine Mouth,” but I eat pine nuts very rarely. Is it even possible to scrutinize the origin? Are the distributors required to disclose the origin of the pine nuts on the packaging?

  2. Primal Pig says:

    I’m not honestly not sure how far along the supply chain the retailer will look, but Trader Joe’s packaging states that these Roasted Pine Nuts were source from Russia or Korea. Sourced is vague, and likely vague for a reason. While possibly sourced (and perhaps roasted/processed) in one of those countries, they may have come originally from China.

    I spoke with a rep from TJ’s and they told me that they discontinued the sourcing directly from China about 5 years ago for similar concerns. It may be possible that either Chinese suppliers have found ways around these cancelled partnerships or that Korea/Russia have similar inedible Red or White Pine Nuts, which they can sell for less to keep theirs and TJ’s margins healthy.

    I submitted a claim both at the store and online for Trader Joe’s.

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