The botanical name for the pine is Pinus, and is derived from the Latin word pix picis, which means the tree that produces pitch. The nut-pines are those trees which produce seed large enough to be conveniently used for food. Of these there are many varieties in this country, as well as in Europe. In Southern Europe and especially in Italy and France, the seeds of the stone-pine (Pinus Pined) have been extensively used as food from the earliest times down to the present day. Nearly all of the ancient authors refer to them as among the valuable products of the country.
Macrobins, in his story of the Saturnalia, speaks of the cones as Nuces vel Poma Pinea. These pine-nuts are called Pinoechi in Italy and Sicily, and occasionally a few reach this country, but the Italian name has been corrupted into Pinolas.
There are several species in this country bearing large, edible seeds. Of the twenty-four species of pine found on the Pacific slope and in Arizona, half of them afford seeds that are used for food by the Indians.
The Pinus edulis is considered the best flavored of the pine-nuts, so named by the late Dr. Engelmann, because of its large, sweet, and edible seeds. It is a small tree, growing on dry hills in Colorado and southward through New Mexico and western Texas.
In Arizona and Lower California there are two species -Pinus Parryana and Pinus cembroides, also called Pinons, which bear large nuts. And farther east and north are found the one leaf pine (Pinus monophylla), and although the seeds are much smaller than those of Pinus edulis, they were formerly gathered in immense quantities by the Indians, to help eke out their often scanty winter store of food.
I. Mountain Pine; 2. Sugar Pine; 3. White-bark Pine; 4. Single-leaf Pine; 5. Parry Pine; 6. Pinon (Pinus Edulis); 7. Arizona Pine; 8. Yellow Pine; 9. Black Pine; 10. Torrey Pine; 11. Gray-leaf Pine; 12. Big-cone Pine; 13. A Branch of Nut Pine.
Occasionally a small quantity of pine-nuts are sent to Eastern markets, but they are not often sent unless ordered early in the season.
The pine-trees Pinus edulis and Pinus Monophylla are perfectly hardy, and worth cultivating for ointment as well as for their nuts.
The pine-nut has a rich, marrowy kernel in a shell that varies in thickness from that of a chestnut to that of a hard-shelled hazelnut. The form and size of the nuts vary greatly in different species, as may be seen on the plate. Pine-nuts are but little known to a majority of the people of the United States, though they are marketed in large quantities in some of the cities of California. Some of them are of good size for confectionary and cooking purposes, and in quality and flavor are so superior that their general introduction will doubtless make them very popular. Pine-nuts are generally harvested by Indians, whose method is to heat the cones until they open, when the nuts are easily rattled out, having been partly roasted in the process.
The nuts are smooth and white, and unlike most nuts there is no skin to remove. They are excellent for shortening, as they are very easy to prepare, perfectly white, almost tasteless, and very rich in fats.