Update: 30/10/10

It is now Week 7 of research. I’m starting to get used to being greeted ‘Hey grace, you’ve got mail’ / ‘Hey grace, how’s pine nuts?’ instead of the usual ‘how are you?’. Oh well! Somebody asked if I am sick of pine nuts yet?…gosh no, not yet! This is only the beginning.

It has been a particularly amazing week for me and pine nut research. Apart from the kind responses and generous contributions of samples that have been streaming in, a few very knowledgeable parties have come forth to share their expertise and resources in pine nuts and their findings on this issue. Special thanks to Penny — for she who has dedicated her life to protecting and promoting pine nuts is now actively assisting our quest to unravel the pine nut mystery by chipping in with her wealth of grower’s knowledge!

Here is the working space I have just been allocated to this week. I’ve spent much of the past few weeks at home and in the library, perusing journals, books and answering emails. Now I work in a cold (15˚C brrr…) food-grade room, and I’m in the midst of sorting and documenting the pine nuts within the samples that I have received so far. At the moment, a clear observation is that these samples are mostly a mixture of 2-3 species from a selection of 4 species I could visually identify. The one that I have featured in my previous post of ‘The Ones to Avoid’ is common across all the samples — be it in 50% mixture or as few as 2-3 seeds amongst a hundred. And indeed, 2-3 of these seeds have been enough to cause myself and 3 other people symptoms. I am still working hard to sort the samples for analysis (lumping good and bad seeds together is just going to dilute the results of the analysis and complicate matters), and so here I am sorting seed by seed by seed in preparation for the tests. Not yet an expert in identifying Pinus species (ordered some seeds from tree growers and pine nut suppliers for reference) but soon enough, I will be. Just a sneak preview of one of the samples:

Berkley & Jensen Pine Nuts, sorted. The ones at the bottom were common across the samples I have received so far. Some problem samples consisted only 1-2% by weight of these seeds.

I will make a post of my visual findings when I am done sorting and identifying this batch of samples (I still need more, please contact me if you have some to send, THANK YOU!!). For now, here’s a quick update on the statistics:

  • Number of hits: 1737
  • Number of surveys done: 133
  • Number of samples received: 23
  • Number of samples promised but yet to be received: 18
  • Number of samples I hope to receive: 50
  • Number of surveys I hope to receive: 200-300

Do help me to spread word of my research, as the more people we have on this, the more information we can gather, and the better are our chances to find a solution to the problem! Speakers of other languages, I need your help too! I’ve gotten/found reports of cases from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, USA, Australia, South Africa, Germany, France, Poland, Iceland, China, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, UK — that’s just too many languages for one Singaporean to handle. Losing enough sleep over pine nuts as it is. :S Thank you all, and I will keep you updated to the best of my abilities.

PS: Thanks Luke and Penny for taking the time to write up a post about my research!


About grrrrracey

I love to eat, I love to cook, and I love to dig into every mystery about food!
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One Response to Update: 30/10/10

  1. Ann Chitty says:

    March 30th 2011 was the first day the metallic taste first struck. Most unpleasant.
    We have a miracle fruit tree, (Synsepalum dulcificum), and it occured to me that eating a fruit before eating a meal might help. It did, somehow the bad taste was not as pronounced.
    This experience is so bad that I will not eat pine nuts who’s origin I don’t know again.

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