Pine Mouth (aka I learn something new every day)

They say you learn something new every day. It’s true.

You just don’t want to have to learn something the hard way.

Take, for example, the last six days, where I have had a bitter, unpleasant taste in my mouth. Literally, not figuratively. It rears its ugly head any time I eat or drink anything. My first thought? Great, instant diet.

Not so much.

It’s pretty gross, and I thought I’d do some research.

Now, let me first state that I’m not a doctor or medical professional of any kind.

I’m more like a professional Googler.

Google “bitter taste in mouth”, and you get all kinds of results. Issues with your mouth can be a symptom of a bigger, more serious health problem. You  know, so when you search for such things online, it can cause temporary panic and a mini freak out session.

Luckily for me, the cause of my unpleasant mouth taste is a less deadly, however annoying source.

Pine nuts.

Yes, the healthy, EXPENSIVE little nut often found in pestos and on salads. And I mean expensive. Mine were $34.99/lb (I removed the price so it wouldn’t negatively implicate the store I purchased them from). You think you’re doing your body a favor by sprinkling them here and there, and you may very well be.

Credible sources such as the FDA and others (there are many more than what I’ve linked to here) cite pine nuts as the cause of something called pine mouth. Exactly the symptoms I’ve been experiencing.

From what I’ve found:

— Pine mouth might come from pine nuts sourced from China, as mine were.
— Pine mouth doesn’t happen to everyone. A group of people can eat the same pine nuts and not everyone will experience pine mouth.
— Pine mouth is not necessarily caused by rancid nuts. While pine nuts go rancid very fast, this is not necessarily the cause of these symptoms.
— The symptoms can arise anywhere from 12 to 48 hours after eating pine nuts, and can last for a couple of days, or up to a couple weeks.

We had some friends over weekend and I added some toasted pine nuts to our green salad. As the cook, you can take certain liberties such as…sampling ingredients you’re cooking with. I popped more than a few pine nuts while I was cooking.

And then I ate some on my salad.

And then on the leftover salad the next day.

Then the bitter taste started. It’s more annoying than anything, especially as someone who enjoys both food and cooking. Try tasting something you’re cooking when you’ve got pine mouth. It’s hard to get a sense if something needs more seasoning when you’re practically barfing it out.

It’s day six and my symptoms seem to be slowly subsiding.

I wouldn’t tell you to swear off pine nuts, and I’m not either. I’m just going to be more careful with checking the label on the pine nuts I buy. No more that come from China. If I still experience the symptoms with pine nuts from another source, I’ll update this post and let you know.

Until then, eat wisely, my friends.

Author: Adrienne | Categories: Leftovers | Comments: 1

One Comment

  1. Posted September 1, 2012 at 7:50 PM | Permalink

    Hey Adrienne! It’s been a while since I have been your site but it’s still looking great!
    RE: pine mouth: I had never heard of it until a chef friend of mine experienced it. After that, I read about in Cook’s Illustrated. Luckily, I have not experienced it yet, but it was definitely a challenge trying to find pine nuts that were NOT from China when I was making pignolis…and you are not kidding about them being expensive! You definitely don’t expect something like that after spending all that money!

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