Pine nuts have been eaten in Europe and Asia since the Palaeolithic period (15,000 to 750,000 years ago). The pine tree is one of the most familiar trees, both in Europe and North America, but it is mainly in the Mediterranean area where they obtain their highest importance of production and consumption.
Already appreciated by the Greeks and Romans, the pine kernel, or pine nut, is an edible nut with an exquisite flavour and high protein content. Spain, Italy, China, Portugal and Turkey are some of the major producing countries of pine kernels. These are marketed in shelled form. Pine nuts contain thiamine, vitamin B1 and protein.
Pine nuts are frequently added to meat, fish, and vegetable dishes. Pine nuts are well known as an essential ingredient of Italian pesto sauce.