Known extensively as pine nuts, the term kernel is actually more accurate for these small tear-shaped seeds of the Mediterranean stone pine, widely used in Italy, Greece and the Middle East.
They have a faint resin-like flavour and aroma, and taste rich and oily. They are at their best when toasted until browned and fragrant.
Italy is a leading producer but pine nuts are also grown in China, where they tend to be much larger - with a little practice you can clearly see the difference.
Toasted pine nuts are a lovely addition to stuffings, salads, pilafs, vegetable side dishes or mezze, and fruit salads. They go especially well with chicken and lamb, cream cheese, dried fruits and rice. In Italy they are used like almonds in rich dessert tarts, and for making pesto.