Hunt for piñon pine nuts in New Mexico
Are they the tastiest nuts in the world? Arguably, yes. Buttery, creamy, a little sweet, piñon (also spelled “pinyon”) pine nuts add their elegant flavor to cookies and pastas, and are just as good for devouring in greedy handfuls. They’re the products of the piñon pine, the state tree of New Mexico; a closely related Nevada tree, the single-leaf piñon, produces delicious, slightly more pine–flavored nuts. (Pine nuts from China and Italy are different varieties.) And while the New Mexican piñon nuts cost a bundle in your local supermarket, you can get around that. You can harvest nuts on national forest lands, then roast them yourself, but it’s sticky, time-consuming work. Better is nosing around New Mexico or Nevada in fall harvest season to find roadside stands that offer nuts at bargain prices. Or get them by mail order: One reliable source is New Mexico Piñon Nut Company. And pinenut.com sells both the New Mexico and Nevada piñon varieties.