The Pinyon: Pine Nut Hunting in the Virginia City Highlands

English: Shelled pine nuts.

Pine nuts are the little brown seeds that grow in the cone of the Pinyon Pine tree. The Pinyon Pine is a stocky, scrubby-looking tree that grows in the Virginia City Highlands of Nevada. If you love pine nuts, then this is a valuable tree to seek for its hidden treasure.

Beneath the hard brown shell lays the expensive creamy kernel. Why are pines nuts so expensive? Harvesting pine nuts can be labor intensive. Once the pine cones are harvested and gathered, each little brown shell must be plucked out by hand. Then the nut is boiled for a minute, until blanched, removed from the hard shell and placed out to dry.

The pine nut is one of the most nutritious nuts you can eat. It is considered a perfect food, high in antioxidants and fiber. It can be added to salads, or eaten raw, or roasted with a sprinkle of salt. I recently added pine nuts to a stuffed zucchini recipe and it was delicious.

This fall is the perfect season for pine nut hunting in the Virginia City Highlands, Nevada. While gathering the pine cones you might stumble upon a herd of wild horses, or catch a glimpse of a shy bobcat that roam the hills.

How do you like to eat pine nuts? What are your favorite recipes with pine nuts?

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