Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Beware Of Pine Nuts From China!

My Unusual Experience with Pine Nuts
This week I posted a Raw Dolmas Recipe using sprouted garbanzo beans and pine nuts. I was a little reluctant to use pine nuts since they were very expensive but they are one of my favorite nuts so I splurged. I have very fond childhood memories of eating Italian pignoli cookies, a soft chewy cookie that is completely covered with pine nuts.

A few days after eating my raw dolmas, I ate a piece of watermelon. It tasted very bitter and metallic. I assumed it was bad. The next thing I ate was some fresh strawberries I bought from my favorite road side stand in Sebastopol. They tasted terrible. I soon realized that EVERYTHING I ate tasted bitter and metallic. I thought maybe one of my vitamins was just leaving a metallic taste in my mouth. It was a complete mystery and extremely annoying. After several days of this, I started to really worry. I googled "bitter taste in my mouth" and immediately found countless articles on pine nuts!

Pine Nuts - Know Your Source
The articles described a rare condition triggered by consuming certain pine nuts that causes food to taste bitter and metallic. Although most articles would not pin this on China, this condition is a recent phenomenon and began when Chinese pine nuts started flooding the market.

I called Whole Foods, where I purchased these pine nuts for $26 a pound, and asked them the source of the nuts. The answer was CHINA! This confirmed what many of the articles inferred, that the pine nuts that ruin your taste buds could be from China. According to, in 2001 the U.S. purchased 45% of China's pine nut crop. Pine nuts are also produced in Spain, Turkey, Italy, Portugal, Russia, North Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It Eventually Goes Away
This bitter mouth condition begins 1 to 3 days after eating the bad nuts. For me, it is starting to go away after a week but I've read that it could last for weeks. So if you make my Raw Dolmas recipe, look for Italian pine nuts. If you can't find anything but Chinese pine nuts, try substituting English walnuts.


Lauren said...

OMG! I just found your blog through a link to another post and how ironic that this is your second post on the page!! My husband and I had the same experience a little while back with Pine Nuts from Trader Joes!! My husband had it worse then me, he couldn't even eat it was so bad. We are so afraid of pine nuts now! At first we couldn't figure out what it was but then we narrowed it down and looked it up and low and behold we aren't the only ones!! Anyway, just thought I'd share because when I posted on my own blog no one else had experienced it!

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Thanks for sharing your experience.
After posting it, my daughter-in-law sent me an email saying that this had happened to her twice! So it's more common than we think. My symptoms went away after about 8 days, thank goodness. My husband ate the same pine nuts and never had any symptoms so I think it's a combination of bad pine nuts and the individual.