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Talk About Leaving a Bad Taste In Your Mouth…

PineMouthA few weeks ago, I had an odd thing happen to me. It was a regular Thursday night. Because Friday is my day off from my marathon training, Thursday night equals wine with dinner, so I was imbibing. I poured myself a glass of my fave aforementioned house wine (aka Yellowtail Chardonnay) to go along with my grilled chicken breast with roasted asparagus (the hubby cooked dinner; it was awesome), took a sip and was puzzled. The wine tasted metallic, kinda tinny. I took another drink (not the brightest moment for me). Same taste. Husband took a sip, he said it tasted fine. Weird.

Then I tried the chicken. Tasted delicious. Then the asparagus. Somewhat metallic. Back to the chardonnay. Definitely like sucking on a penny. WTF?!

Upset at my ruined meal—by fault of my possibly faulty tastebuds—I went to bed slightly hungry that night. Hoping that the next day it would disappear on its own, and I wouldn’t have to Google “metallic taste” and learn that I was dying of some bizarre condition, probably the culmination of drinking too much cheap wine over the years or ingesting too many GU Chomps during my training runs, resulting in severe electrolyte abundance. (When something weird happens to my health, my logic goes to shit.)

Sad to say, the sucking-on-a-penny taste was back when I ate breakfast that next day, and it was the nastiest when eating my usually delicious Greek yogurt. Drat. “I’m dying,” I thought.

I went to Google to confirm. Yep, like I thought, I was an arthritic, depressed, alcoholic with a bad case of gingivitis and lead poisoning, and on the verge of heart failure. What would I tell my family? And Erin?

And then I thought, “Wait a minute. I don’t have a metallic taste in my mouth ALL THE TIME. Just when I eat. And all of these symptoms are for a metallic taste all the time.”

Back to Google I went, asking the world wide web what a “metallic taste when eating” meant. And lo and behold I had my answer. In fact, I found pages and pages of people with the same unappetizing problem. What was to blame? Rancid pine nuts. Small,  innocent, somewhat cute and really tasty (pesto!) pine nuts had done me wrong. Little bastards.

Aptly referred to as “pine mouth,” the rare phenomenon only lasts a few days or weeks, but, let me tell you, it sucks. Mine lasted a full seven days. A whole week where dairy disgusted me (yogurt was the worst). I had to declare a “break” from wine (not a break-up, a break), and the only foods that appealed to me were salty “hit you over the head with flavor and fat” foods. Not great for the ole fit bottom.

And the oddest thing is that the metallic taste doesn’t develop until a few days after you eat the bad pine nuts. In my case, earlier in the week, I had made a quinoa dish sprinkled with them after Erin raved about the high-protein grain. It was a full three days before the “pine mouth” set in. Sick.

The pine nuts I had used in the dish were bought just a few days prior to the quinoa-pine nut cooking, and they were well ahead of their “best before” date. According to all of the online research I’ve done, it seems that pine nuts aren’t the most stable of the nuts (ha) and new shipping practices from overseas may play a role.

I’m sure you can guess that my bag of (not cheap!) pine nuts immediately went in the trash. And I don’t think I’ll be cooking or eating them any time soon. (Pesto, I love you, but I think I’ll sub walnuts for your usual pine nuts going forward.)

One thing is certain though: I’m happy to be alive and glad I’m not an arthritic, depressed, alcoholic with a bad case of gingivitis and lead poisoning on the verge of heart failure! —Jenn

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  1. Glad to hear you’re not “an arthritic, depressed, alcoholic with a bad case of gingivitis and lead poisoning on the verge of heart failure,” Jenn. And thx for info re the pine nuts. Never heard that before. I have a bag in my freezer that’s getting a little old now. Not too sure I want to test whether they’re still good or not!

  2. Claudia says:

    Another option for pine nut-less pesto is to use cashews! I’ve never really liked pine nuts for some reason so I generally substitute anyway.
    My favorite pesto “recipe” is:
    basil, spinach, cashews, lemon juice, garlic, organic extra virgin olive or hemp oil, himalayan salt or dulse, nutritional yeast (I also add cayenne).

  3. Brigite says:

    I have some pretty old pine nuts that I’m going to clean out of the pantry as soon as I get home! Yikes!

    So sorry this happened to you.

  4. that is so strange. thanks for the heads up

  5. The Merry says:

    I was just wondering if those pine nuts in the pantry were still good. Now I know better than to try and find out. Thanks for the warning 🙂

  6. Wow, that is the strangest thing I’ve heard all week. Thanks for the warning, though. Now I know not to chance it with old pine nuts.

  7. Wow, that’s so crazy!!! I would have never thought it would be from bad pine nuts. Thank goodness for the Internets…

  8. Cynthia says:

    Very interesting! I’d never heard of this! OTOH, I can’t afford pine nuts very often. So maybe it’s better to just stick with walnuts or cashews. I keep all my nuts and seeds in the fridge though, so perhaps I wouldn’t have the problem.

  9. Lina says:

    I’ve had that! I also googled it, but didn’t get beyond the “arthritic, depressed, alcoholic with a bad case of gingivitis and lead poisoning on the verge of heart failure”, because I didn’t realised that it was only when I was eating! Doh! But it went away quite quickly, so I wasn’t too bothered. It was weird though and very unpleasant.

  10. Jane says:

    Wow – I’m in the middle of this experience right now and it’s awful. Only by researching the source have I figured out what caused this (thanks for your blog!).

    Unfortunately, I used a LOT of pine nuts in my lunch salads over the past 2 days. Geez I hope this doesn’t last a week. For me, I’m aware of it even when I’m not eating, but I did use a lot. Is anyone sure this is only because the nuts are rancid? Can it happen even if the nuts are okay?


  11. katyis says:

    perhaps its an interesting way to curb your appetite though? if everything tastes metallic you will for sure eat less no?

  12. Chelsea says:

    FYI…all nut should be kept in the freezer for storage. This will help prevent rancid flavors and pine mouth- yuck!

  13. Barbarar says:

    The truth of the matter is that some anxiety is good. Without it. You would not feel pressure to excel and pressure to exceed. If your not doing that or living up to your potential. Then anxiety is probably natural and healthy …

  14. brian says:

    I came on your site – as I searched “quinoa and saltiness in mouth”. Are you sure it wasn’t the quinoa?

  15. Stephanie says:

    This happened to me once after eating just ONE pine nut! And I couldn’t figure out why anything sweet tasted awful until a friend heard what I was going through and said “did you eat any pine nuts?”

    Now I refuse to eat pine nuts. I know it’s not an allergy, but I still use that as the reasoning if I ask if something contains pine nuts.

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