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The History of Pinon Nut Harvests Reported in Newspapers

Prepared by Penny Frazier

Aug 25, 1906
It is said that the Navajo Indians of New Mexico are unusually prosperous this year on account of the arge crop of pinon nuts. It is the first crop have had ...

 - In 1925, a good seed year, 1200000 pounds of shelled pinon nuts were shipped out of New Mexico alone, according to available Forest Service records. The gathering of pinon nuts is an important seasonal job for certain residents, especially the native Mexican


In checking figures on Navajo income in 1927, the author was surprised to find that they received a larger total sum from the sale of pinon nuts than from the sale of rugs and blankets

Jan 16, 1932
... families to recoup losses caused by drought and poor market by gathering pinon nuts, of a fair crop occurs only once in three, five or seven years

Feb 6, 1932
For the first time in seven years there had been a good crop of mountain pinon nuts. The Indians had left their flocks in charge of little boys and gone ...

Nov 4, 1934
Here, this fail the game is in excellent condition, due to the unusually plentiful crop of pinon nuts upon which the deer are feeding1945,The pinon nuts yielded the Navajo an income of $390,000 in 1945, which is more than the combined value of both rugs and silver which they produced.

It is estimated, however, that in 1945 silver to the value of $150,000 and rugs valued at 210,000 were produced by the Navajo and that they received $390,000 from the sale of pinon nuts. The pinon crop is subject to wide fluctuations. In some years the yield is heavy in many areas and very
light in others, while there have been some years when the crop was a total failure. The amount received by the Navajo from wages increased enormously in the years following the outbreak of the war. Doubtless the future years will see considerable decline of income from this source.

Dec 15, 1937
- The 1937 production that of an ordinary crop, according to the reports, although the yield of pinon nuts 'vanes greatly, ranging from lesh than a million ... 

The pinon nuts yielded the Navajo an income of $390,000 in 1945, which is more than the combined value of both rugs and silver which they produced.

Superintendent J. M. Stewart to E. E. Dale, October n, 1946.

New York Times - Mar 12, 1949
Fall sheep prices were good, and there was an exceptional crop of pinon nuts, another important source of income.

America's Wild Pinon Pine Nuts
Out of the 100 recognized species of true pines,about 28 species produce nuts of sufficient quality and desirable flavor to make them worth are three kinds of pinyon pine in these forests. The New Mexico Pinyon is one of the main sources of the edible pine nuts of the American southwest. The "nuts" are the seeds found between the scales of the cones. Pinyon pine nuts were a major food source for native American Indians in the area where the nut pine grows, in some cases providing most or all of the winter diet.

Pine nut development in North America is modest in comparison with that in Europe. The Italian pine tree, with superior timber, is larger and grows faster than the stunted pinon of the southwestern United States. Italian stone pine plantations are well established in Mediterranean Europe, via order of the pope in the mid 1600's.The American pinon has remained mostly neglected and uncultivated.

About European Pine nuts

The most common in Europe is the "pignolia" nuts of the Italian stone pine, grown for the most part in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and North Africa. In Italian stone pine harvests, the trees are shaken to remove the kernel. Once removed, they are dried further before being processed in a milling station to remove the kernel from its hard outer shell. The kernels and shells are separated by sifting; the testa, or thin skin which still covers the kernel, is then removed. Thereafter, the kernels are graded and sized.
Superior, unblemished, shelled kernels, both large and small, are reserved for the export market; the remaining kernels are sold locally or utilized in prepared foods. Although pignolia nuts may be eaten out of hand, raw or roasted, they have the distinction of being the only nuts used predominantly as ingredients for cooking. For many centuries in European cookery, they have been blended with meats, fish and poultry, and have been used in many different sauces.
Explore our website to read more about Korean, Siberian, Afiganistan, Chineese Pine Nuts.
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