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Pine Nuts Are Evil

May 12, 2009

Sorry, this post doesn’t contain any mouthwatering photos or recipes, but it does contain an interesting fact I learned today!

Over the weekend my husband and I attended a wedding in Alexandria, VA. The food we ate all weekend, from lunch at Chadwick’s on the waterfront to the heavenly chicken fontina at the rehearsal dinner to the delicious crab cakes and filet at the reception, was amazing. I came home with no ill effects, other than feeling like I gained about 20lbs.

Until Monday. Everything I ate yesterday – the blueberry muffin I ate for breakfast (recipe coming up tomorrow!), the chicken piccata I made for dinner, the Ghiradelli chocolate I had for dessert – all had an extremely bitter aftertaste. What in the world?! I know those blueberry muffins aren’t bitter, I’ve eaten at least 9 of them already. And my husband assured me the chicken piccata wasn’t bitter either! But that was all I could taste.

At first, I chalked it up to my allergies. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been sneezing my head off lately. The more I thought about it, though, I realized I’ve never had this problem with allergies before. So I turned to Dr. Google. The first few links I read suggested everything from acid reflux to decaying teeth as the cause, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have acid reflux and I was just at the dentist last month where I got a clean bill of health.

And that’s when I found it. The 5th hit of my Google search suggested pine nuts. I clicked over to the Wikipedia page about pine nuts, and what do you know:

The eating of pine nuts can cause serious taste disturbances, developing 1-3 days after consumption and lasting for days or weeks. A bitter, metallic taste is described. In general, a minority of pine nuts on the market present this problem. Though very unpleasant, there does not seem to be a real health concern.

A quick Google search for “pine nuts” and “bitter taste” sealed the deal. The reason I’ve been able to taste nothing but bitterness for the last day and a half? The pine nuts on the salad I ate at the wedding reception on Saturday. Now let’s just hope it goes away soon!

More on pine nuts & the bitter taste:
The Pine Nut Menace (Food & Wine)
Pine Nuts Left A Bitter Taste In My Mouth (Pinch My Salt)
The Great Pine Nut Mystery (The Greasy Spoon)

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4 Comments
  1. May 12, 2009 11:19 am

    Huh, that’s interesting! I’m also impressed you made it to Google result number 5. I would have stopped after the first one, convinced my teeth were rotting despite overall good oral hygiene!

  2. May 12, 2009 1:19 pm

    That’s crazy! I’ve never heard of such a thing. I will be avoiding pine nuts in the future, just in case.

    I once used a dental fluoride rinse that numbed my taste buds for a day or two. That really scared me – life would be so cruel without the taste buds doing their thing!

  3. May 13, 2009 9:13 am

    I eat pine nuts all the time, and have never had this happen! I guess since they say it only effects a small number of nuts on the market, I’ve just been lucky!

  4. BigRedd permalink
    July 21, 2009 1:36 pm

    Thinks I’ve gleaned while researching my own “pine mouth” problem:
    Not everyone gets it.

    Imports from China seem to be the culprit.

    Doesn’t seem to be a contamination or spoilage problem, maybe just a certain (Chinese) variety.

    Labeling of country of origin isn’t always accurate, so beware. Trader Joe nuts from Korea, Russia, or Vietnam are only PACKAGED there; origin is indeed China.

    More expensive Italian nuts don’t seem to cause the problem.

    Toasting nuts first (not eating them raw) seems to prevent the problem. Reports all seem to refer to getting it after eating raw nuts, but not 100% sure this is the case since people aren’t focusing on that point.

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