Pine Tree Treasures

Back on the road, celebrity chef Mark McEwan continues in his discovery of New Zealand artisan food producers. Known for its vineyards and wineries, the temperate climate of Marlborough is also the ideal environment for pine nut orchards. Today, Mark meets Lee from Pinoli Pine Nuts to discover the unique natural processes that allow this premium product to thrive.

Located 30 minutes west of Blenheim, deep in Marlborough’s Wairau Valley, Lee’s pine nuts are grown and harvested from European Stone Pines. These thrive in the area’s rocky, river-based soils, similar to those found in the Stoneleigh Vineyard. Here, nature rewards patience. Planted in winter, it takes three years for a seedling to flourish and produce a harvestable pine cone. After 20 years, the tree will usually produce between 10 and 50 pine cones per season, each one containing up to 120 kernels. Continuing in this fashion for generations, the hardy trees of the Pinoli orchard are expected to live up to 300 years, thanks to the soil’s nutrients, the right balance of rainfall and sunshine, in addition to regular tendering.

The fragile pine nuts are naturally shielded from the elements by the intricate structure of the pine cone they lie within. Once fully developed, the cones are picked and stored in a dry place, naturally opening to reveal the actual seeds when temperature and humidity levels are just right. These seeds comprise the pine nut’s final layer of protection and are removed during the last stage of harvest.

Mark prepares a classic pesto, to emphasise the quality and flavour of the fresh pine nuts. After toasting the nuts, he grinds them with a mortar and pestle along with a clove of fresh garlic, a pinch of salt and some roughly-chopped basil. Adding a little Pecorino Romano cheese, a dash of lemon juice and some ground pepper, Mark serves his pesto with Italian meatballs and tomato sauce complemented by a glass of Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Noir. In the scenic surroundings of the Pinoli pine nut orchard, Mark and Lee sample the dish, a beautiful food and wine pairing that is perfect to enjoy with friends.

Marlborough's Pinoli Pine Nuts
Pinoli Pine Nuts
Chef Mark McEwann Discovers Pinoli Pine Nuts
Chef Mark McEwann Cooking With Pinoli Pine Nuts

Lee’s Pinoli Pine Nuts are a special gift from nature. Through patience, careful cultivation and a unique environment, the pine nuts are protected by their surroundings until the time is just right. This is his wonder of nature.