While growing up in Santa Fe my parents, aunts and uncles waited in anticipation for the new crop of piñon. Every seven years a new bumper crop of piñon appeared in the foothills. Today, with global warming the harvest of the pine nuts is less frequent. I don’t know anyone who goes pinõn picking these days partly because it’s too labor intensive. Also, many of the areas where people once harvested the precious nut is no longer land open to the public. But many people continue to sell piñon, so there still must be enterprising souls gathering the forest’s bounty.
The World’s Best
In Asia the two most popular types of pine nuts derive from the Korean pine and the chilgoza pine in the western Himalaya. Afghanistan also produces pine nuts. When their crop is to be picked rival tribal groups halt military operations for the harvest. European pine nuts, like Italy’s pignoli nuts derive from the stone pine. In terms of size and quality New Mexico’s piñon nuts are considered to be some of the best in the world. Our high altitude combined with low humidity attribute to the quality of this region’s pine nuts.
Señor Murphy Candymaker in Santa Fe continues to churn out sweet piñon delights. They sell locally and also ship their products around the country. Although Señor Murphy’s could purchase less expensive pine nuts from places like China, they’ve held steadfast in only purchasing local piñon—another testament to Santa Fe’s cultural pride!