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As compared to other local nuts, Chilgozas are more expensive as farming and gathering is a laborious process. They are supreme in their nutritional value as the antioxidants help improve cholesterol levels. The zinc improves the immunity of the body. They contain Palmitic, Stearic, Oleic and Linoleic Fatty Acids and are high in Calcium and other Minerals including Phosphorous and Iron. The Vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin) are especially great for Pakistanis who do not get enough sunlight during the winter season.
Pine Nuts known as Chilgoza are found in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan Provinces, the Northern Areas of Gilgit and Kashmir. The Chilgoza Pine is from the Pinus Gerardiana species mainly grown in the Himalayan range forests of Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. They need growing elevations of 1800 to 3350 meters altitude. It has a strong long-lasting tree that survives drought, winds and harsh winters.
Chilgozas have a shorter life than most other nuts as they go rancid if left out in the open. Best to store in an airlock jar or in the freezer. They can last up to 9 months frozen or for over a month in the refrigerator. The peeled or unshelled pine nuts have a longer shelf life when stored in a dry air sealed or refrigerated container.
Chilgozas are not only as a standalone food item they can be used in salads, pesto sauce, and green curry. It is considered a luxurious dried fruit item during the winter season in Pakistan. It is in many trail mix and dried fruit mixes available in local shops. Mixed in with Jaggery, Peanuts, Walnuts, Sultanas and Dried Coconut Shreds and Raisins in 1 kg mix bags. It gives the body a boost of energy without feeling too heavy on the stomach. They are eaten raw right out of the shell or roasted to enhance the flavour with salt. They have a rich flavour that feels creamy and soft. The Pakistani Chilgoza is the biggest size kernel in the world. They work really well to garnish various foods.