Imagine you could eat 3.5 ounces of something and get 28% of your daily protein, 30% of your calcium, 17% of your potassium, 14% of your daily fibre and 62% of your magnesium requirement. Oh, and also 670 energy supplying calories. Bonus: you get to pick it off a tree, which will continue supplying this bounty for the next 25 years or more.
Pine nuts can do this for you. In all there are about twelve useful nut producing pine trees found across Asia, Siberia, Europe and in the Southern United States. While all of the 100+ pine trees found around the world produce seeds, approximately 20 species produce nuts large enough for collecting however, as I mentioned above, only about 12 are important nut producers.
In the US nut collecting from native species is done exclusively with pinyon pines. The bulk of commercial pine nuts sold are collected in the wild.
In the northern sections of North America pine nuts are collected from imported varieties, with the Korean species, Pinus koraiensis, probably being the most popular because of the size of it’s nut. The Korean Pine can be grown in Zones 2-9, so it is extremely tolerant of cold climates.
You can find a great round up of the various species of pine nut trees typically available for purchase here on Rhora’s Nut Trees web page.
For a great round up on pinyon pines and harvesting their nuts try this article by Hank Shaw.
Pinyon pines are slow growing so the likelihood of you harvesting from your own tree are slight. However, if you are on property you expect to stay on for a few years, you might want to consider starting some Korean Pine. As mentioned on the Rhora’s site, hybrids are now becoming available which can bear fruit in as little as 6 years, and they bear nuts that are up to 30% larger than non-hybrid types.
If you are establishing a homestead, whether rural or urban, you should consider planting some of these trees. They do reach a considerable size, but so do the pine and spruce that I see growing beside many a suburban ranch style home around town. And if you have a couple of acres, not only are you able to provide a tasty and nutritious product for your family, you could also be creating a small supplemental income. Pine nuts are selling for up to $40.00 a pound. At a farmers market, where you can advertise “locally produced,” and offer 4 oz packages, you could be making a lot more than that.
Pine nut trees are definitely multi purpose, providing shade, wind protection and landscape interest as well as a tasty and nutritious food product. They fit in perfectly with the Survival Harvesting principle of work once, harvest many.
I’ve dropped the nutrition table I gleaned the opening paragraph information from down below. Consider pine nuts. Remember, the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.