Question: What is the proper blessing for pine nuts?
Answer: The Mishnah (beginning of Chapter Six of Berachot) states, “On fruits of the tree, one recites ‘Boreh Peri Ha’etz.’” It seems that pine nuts should be considered a fruit like any other, for they are extracted from the cones which grow on pine trees and the pine tree is certainly considered a tree like any other.
Nevertheless, there is a distinction between the fruit of the pine tree to the fruit of other trees, for the pine tree is known to be a non-fruit-bearing tree. The Shiboleh Ha’Leket (Chapter 160) writes that fruits produced by non-fruit-bearing trees require the “Shehakol Nihya Bidvaro” blessing, for they are not significant enough to recite the “Boreh Peri Ha’etz” blessing on them. Maran Ha’Bet Yosef (Chapter 203) quotes his words.
Similarly, the Geonim write in their responsa that berries which grow on Hadassim (myrtle branches) require the “Shehakol” blessing, for fruits grown on non-fruit-bearing trees are not considered fruits. Many other Rishonim rule likewise and Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l quotes their opinion as Halacha in his Chazon Ovadia-Berachot, page 150. Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch rules likewise (Chapter 203). It would seem based on this that pine nuts would require the “Shehakol” blessing.
Nevertheless, the Turei Zahav (beginning of Chapter 203) writes that it seems to him the Poskim only write this regarding inferior fruits which usually grow on trees in the forest, such as small wild apples, berries on myrtle branches, and the like. However, fruits of trees which become ripe and good to eat after staying on the tree for a while require the “Boreh Peri Ha’etz” blessing. The Turei Zahav concludes, “It is indeed our custom to recite the “Ha’etz” blessing on small nuts found on the trees of the forest.” Other great Poskim rule likewise.
Maran zt”l quotes the Ba’al Halachot Gedolot who writes, “Pine nuts are a fruit of the tree and require the ‘Boreh Peri Ha’etz” blessing.” The Rashbetz writes likewise: “The fruits of the trees of the forest are certainly considered fruits and require the “Boreh Peri Ha’etz” blessing.”
Summary: Fruits found on non-fruit-bearing trees require the “Shehakol Nihya Bidvaro” blessing. Nevertheless, important fruits grown on such trees, such as pine nuts, require the “Boreh Peri Ha’etz” blessing.