Pine “mint”: Portugal’s white gold

Pine “mint”: Portugal’s white gold

Nuts || It has been described as Portugal’s “white gold” – a kilo of which can be sold for €120. What are we talking about? Pine nuts. Little jewels hiding away in the cones of the country’s vast supply of pine trees and now ripe for the picking. In fact, this year, Portugal is expected to harvest around 20 million kilos of pine cones – the majority of which will be sold to Spain.

Portugal retains only 6% of its precious nuts, writes Diário de Notícias, explaining that the delicacies are comparatively rare, due to a combination of pine tree pests and diseases and climate change.

“These days it takes us roughly half-an-hour to clean a tree,” pine nut harvester Marco Carvalho told DN, “whereas in the old days, it would take more than two hours”.

Sadly, the “old days” were as recent as 2010 – which Carvalho described as a bumper year. “There were trees with up to 1,000 cones,” he said.

Bearing in mind that a tree with 100 pine cones yields around 20 kilos of nuts today, it is not surprising the delicacies are dubbed Portugal’s white gold.