Revenge of the Pine Nuts?

Grabbed a bag of those tasty little Pine nuts from Trader Joe’s or slathered your pasta with some lovely fresh Pesto from Whole Foods? Yum, you say, right?! Well, in some cases you may be left with a bitter taste in your mouth. Before you go imagining all kinds of diseases from Jaundice to Diabetes, it may be the Pine nuts themselves.

Unbeknownst to me, there is a new variety of these nuts on the market. They look tiny, but taste just as yummy as the real thing. As a true Italian brought up on Pesto sauce, I typically keep Pine nuts in my fridge, particularly in the summer, when basil abounds. But this past week, when I grabbed a bag of tiny pearls from TJs, I didn’t know I was also grabbing me a case of “Pine Mouth”.

Researchers are still unclear about what causes this condition, which affects only a few, not all who eat the nuts. They do suspect it has to do with Pine nuts from China — the ones from TJs give a combo of three countries of origin, but I threw out the bag — and us, the consumers being fed a variety that is not meant to be eaten. It’s not poisonous, not toxic, but it’s simply not meant to be eaten by humans! It will leave you with a bitter taste which will make enjoying your favorite foods impossible, for at least a week. Even my fave Magnum ice cream bar taste bitter, and that’s saying a lot…

So, while this is by no means a medical blog, give yourself a break if you recently had Pine nuts and are feeling a bit disappointed in everything you eat. Give it a week, more or less, throw out the rest of the nuts and you’ll be as good as new before you know it. And while I picked up my nuts from TJs, they are being sold all over. In this case, size indeed does matter.

To read all about the condition, check out botanist Roger Hyam’s blog. Reading up about the condition on his site was a godsend.

Top image, of the best Pine nuts money can buy, courtesy of

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