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19 November, 2021 Feature Articles

Siberian Pine Nut By-Products and Processed Products –a Valuable Source of Essential Nutrients

Siberian Pine Nut By-Products and Processed Products –a Valuable Source of Essential Nutrients

The Russian pine nut market is a rapidly developing branch of the national agricultural economy, currently shifting towards the manufacture and export of top-quality organic derived products with an exceptional set of nutritional substances and great benefits for the human body.

By: Andrei Mikhailenko, Managing Partner, Russian Union of Wild Crop Collectors and Processors

Andrei was born in Omsk, Siberia, where he received his legal education at the Omsk Law Academy. After finishing his master’s degree at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, he started working in agricultural goods export, founding in 2016 the Siberian Pine Nuts Company. In 2020 he was appointed Managing Partner of the noncommercial partnership Russian Union of Wild Crop Collectors and Processors.

Pine forests cover a vast part of Siberia and the Russian far east, with a total area of 65 million hectares where three different species of pine (Siberian pine –Pinus sibirica, Korean pine –Pinus koraiensis and Siberian dwarf pine –Pinus pumila) grow.

The potential yield of this area amounts to 207,000 tons. Unsurprisingly, the economic outlook of pine forests as a food source has been emphasized by many scientists over the years, while the nutritional value of their precious fruits –pine nuts– has been researched. Pine nuts are high in polyunsaturated fat, thiamin, vitamin E and K, and minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and manganese. They are also a source of fiber, potassium, niacin and riboflavin. Among nuts, pine nuts contain the highest amount of vitamin K, which contributes to the maintenance of normal bones.

The Russian pine market is constantly expanding, and after establishing its position as regards to the export of in-shell nuts, it is now mainly focusing on the manufacture and export of pine nut derived products: in a world where a growing number of people are starting to pay more attention to their dietary needs, pine nut by-products and processed products can –and should– play an important role as functional foodstuff with top-quality nutritional values and great benefits for the human body. In addition, pine nuts are an organic, sustainable and environmentally friendly raw material, the growing of which has helped to protect the habitat of endangered species such as the Amur tiger and the Amur leopard.

The economic potential of pine nut-derived products is reflected by their relatively broad assortment, including oil, dairy alternative drink, paste, flour, oil cake, flakes and confectionery. Each of them has specific properties and benefits for the human body which make them particularly captivating for different consumer groups.

Pine nut oil contains useful biochemical components such as tocopherols, phospholipids and phytosterols, as well as health-promoting unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). It also contains vitamins (A, E, K) and essential micro- and macro-nutrients, mostly phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium. A single tablespoon of pine nut oil can satisfy the daily intake of PUFAs and tocopherol by 57-75% and 29-38%, respectively.

As for PUFAs, pine nut oil contains linoleic acid, mostly ω-6 fatty acids, which may help prevent atrophy, degenerative processes and the aging of blood vessels and skin cells. For this reason, it should be included in the daily ration and dietary composition as an additive or as a condiment for salads and sauces.

Pine nut drink is an exceptional substitute for dairy products. If compared to cereal- and legume-based non-dairy drinks, its digestibility is higher, especially due to a lower amount of gluten in its composition. It has a pleasant, mild, delicate aroma and a sweet, nutty flavor, which makes it ideal for the production of ice cream which is at the same time rich in taste and beneficial for the human body. Based on pine nut drinks, different fermented non-dairy products are manufactured, which can be an excellent alternative for both vegans and people with lactose intolerance.

Pine nut paste has a pleasant nutty flavor and aroma; it is plastic and soft in consistency and can be easily spread. The raw material is quite versatile and allows for the production of various pastes in order to meet specific consumers’ needs: with or without dairy milk –for vegans and people with lactose intolerance; sugar- or fructose-based –for diabetics; enriched with vitamin-mineral premixes –for functional nutrition.

Pine nuts and their by-products are unique raw materials for the confectionery industry due to their high content of easily digestible proteins, vitamins and essential minerals, pleasant taste, and benefits for human health. Pine nuts have been used for centuries in the Mediterranean area in the preparation of traditional recipes, such as pesto sauce, Austrian strudel or Italian pinolata and castagnaccio. Pine nut flour and oil cake can be used in the preparation of delicious pastries and chocolates, such as unique macaroons with a distinctive cedar flavor. Moreover, they can help you incorporate immune-boosting nutrients into your daily diet and may help to reduce the levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol in the blood.

Siberian pine nut flakes can enrich the composition of breakfast mixes, granola as well as fruit and nut bars, but are also an excellent substitute for whole pine nuts in the preparation of pesto sauce: they are similar to the taste and composition of their Mediterranean equivalent –Italian stone pine (Pinus pinea).

Other tasty confectionery products based on pine nuts include traditional Mediterranean pine nut cookies, pine nut brittle (roasted candied nuts) and marzipan with delicious organoleptic properties, thus meeting the demands of any sweet tooth.

To sum up, Siberian pine nuts and their derived products represent a promising economic source for the global nut and fried fruit market of functional and organic foodstuff due to their unique set of top-quality nutrients and delightful organoleptic characteristics. Organic pine nuts by-products and processed products have a highly varied range of applications.
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