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Most recipes with pan-toasted pine seeds say they need to toasted DRY, WITHOUT oil.

Why?

It does not make sense to me. Toasting them DRY gives them a spotty appearance. Dark toasted spots where the seed touches the pan and pale where the seed did not. Not the maximum of flavor with the added danger of burning.

However frying them WITH plenty of oil leaves them a uniform golden color with the maximum of flavor and they are less likely to burn.

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  • This is recipe dependent. There are cases when I add pine nuts to hot oil, and times when I toast. It just depends on the result you are seeking.
    – moscafj
    Nov 12 '20 at 11:48
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When coated in oil you don't toast them. You fry them.

And toasting pine nuts usually means in oven, often tossing (also apply to doing it on stovetop but then tossing should be constant).

Adding oil is pointless for few reasons: Pine nuts (or nuts in general) are already fatty on their own. Adding different oil don't make the taste better. It's just a safety net for a cost of changing the taste.

If you want just use oil from roasted nuts in your dish.

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  • I mean stovetop in a pan. The fat content is an often cited reason which to me is irrelevant. What does it have to do with anything? The seeds fried in oil are way more homogeneously golden colored and have more roasted flavour than the one ones in a dry pan.
    – Usal
    Nov 12 '20 at 10:17
  • @usal If you are getting spotty appearance when doing it dry, then you are doing it wrong. You should reduce the heat setting and/or stir more. The fat content is relevant to many people, both for taste and nutritional reasons. If it is irrelevant to you and you prefer them in oil, then nobody stops you from doing it that way - but this answer is the correct one, this is the reason why most people prefer dry toasting (be it in the oven or on stovetop).
    – rumtscho
    Nov 12 '20 at 10:21
  • @Usal Does the fries fried in oil have the same taste as fries baked in the oven? If you answer that no then that's the difference beetwen using oil and not. Also for the reason of smoke point the best oil for reasting are olive oil or ghee, both which have own distinctive flavours. Which change the ones of the nuts. Nov 12 '20 at 10:23
  • Agreed to the point that oil can and probably will change the flavor. @rumtscho how do you toast pine seeds such that they are completely evenly coloured?
    – Usal
    Nov 12 '20 at 10:29
  • @Usal you probably don't get 100% evenly coloured nuts when doing them dry on stovetop, but you can get them with an appealing variation of colour, not with ugly spots. The way to do it is what me and szczerzo mentioned, either proper temperature control on stovetop, or using the oven.
    – rumtscho
    Nov 12 '20 at 10:48

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