Everything I’ve ever read says that pinyon nuts (Pinus edulis) are ready for harvest in late summer and fall. So you can imagine my surprise a couple weeks ago, while passing through Utah’s Great Basin on our recent road trip, to find fallen pine nuts with the nutseeds intact, ripe and ready to eat.
Throughout the trip I’d been absentmindedly pinching fallen pinyon nuts whenever I saw them, but always getting air. Then one day during a bathroom stop I got out of the car and looked up to see the most cone-laden pinyon tree I’d ever seen. All of the cones were dangling open, so I looked down to see a litter of pine nuts in the duff underneath. I picked one up and pinched it only to find a firm, white-tan seed inside! Incredulous, I popped it in my mouth, and was further astounded by the flavor.
When Gregg got out of the bathroom I asked him to climb under the tree with me to collect pine nuts. (In case you’re wondering, these are the same pine nuts that can be purchased in the grocery store—except that usually the pine nuts you buy at the store are imported from overseas, despite the fact that pinyon trees grow wild in large swaths across the western United States and Mexico.) Read the rest of this entry