07 Mar2010

Shelled Pili Nuts

by Marketman


Our Office Manager “B” in Cebu was on a recent business trip to Legaspi, and brought back a kilo or so of freshly shelled pili nuts for Sister. Back in Manila, Sister was worried that U.S. Customs would not look too kindly on fresh nuts being brought into New York, so she decided to cook a pili nut cake (next post) that our mom used to make when we were younger. I have written about pili nuts before, these wonderful, high fat and delicious nuts indigenous to the archipelago and nearby countries.


I have previously written about pili on this blog and if you are interested, you may want to see some unusual photos of fresh pili (picked seconds before from a tree on the farm) with cross-sections, etc., here. Or read this post on fresh pili fruit, the nuts and the shelled nuts. If you were wondering how to remove the pili nut “skins” easily, check out this post.


Peeled pili nuts are used in a variety of sweet delicacies from the Bicol region, a few of them described in this post. I have actually used the nuts in a pili nut brittle that was delicious, particularly after dipping the brittle in dark chocolate… Pili nuts tend to go rancid rather quickly, so it’s difficult to transport them, but I do wish more and more folks would discover this wonderful local nut.



  1. natie says:

    my favorite nuts!! next would be macadamia, brazil, pecans and walnuts…but i eat a handful of walnuts a day–more available and much cheaper. it’s a treat to eat a big mouthfull of good pili!

    Mar 7, 2010 | 9:24 pm


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  3. Gerry says:

    Try the Albay brand pili nut products available in Metro Grocery in Market Market. The butter glazed and the plain salted are quite good.

    Mar 7, 2010 | 10:05 pm

  4. zena says:

    When I had them in a big amount, I would use pili insteadof walnuts for my food for the gods. That along with candied kamias, instead of dates, made it more local. =)

    Mar 7, 2010 | 10:45 pm

  5. Mari says:

    Love pili nuts…and miss them so dearly. The pili brittle or candied pili nuts are what I have been eating in my younger days…I could use some today. =D

    Mar 8, 2010 | 12:19 am

  6. www.triportreats.com says:

    Someone gave me fresh pili nuts from Naga before… And I was too lazy to figure out how to remove the skin that I just ate it. Not tasty. But the Nut? Winner. But I am in love with those Pili Tarts which look like boats.

    Great tone on your photos!

    Mar 8, 2010 | 1:49 am

  7. thelma says:

    i wonder if pili trees could grow in california. i never
    get tired of these nuts….

    Mar 8, 2010 | 4:14 am

  8. Guits says:

    I am from Albay and I loooooooooove pili in whatever form…
    …the pulp (linanta) is good with sugar, but my grandmother preferred these dipped in patis and eaten with rice.
    …the nuts are milky when eaten uncooked (when tasked to “tilad” the pilinuts, we would always eat the ones that did not come out whole); older nuts tend to be more oily though.
    …candied, where do I start … deep fried in oil and coated with sugar or karo syrup (glazed pili), molido, buding, santan with pili,…

    Thanks MM for posting this … it brought on good memories :).

    Mar 8, 2010 | 4:53 am

  9. leo says:

    Store shelled Pili nuts in the ice box. It would stay forzen and edible for month. My parents would bring several kilos of the stuff everytime they fly in for a visit. I sprinkle some on my oat champorado evey morning.

    Mar 8, 2010 | 5:55 am

  10. joey says:

    I brought back some too when I visited Bicol…so delicious! I like using it in pesto…or just freshly blanched and skinned! Looking forward to that pili nut cake…

    Mar 8, 2010 | 6:13 am

  11. rhea says:

    my lola had a tree in her farm up in the boondoks of Negros, and as children, we would use stones to crush the outer shell to get to the nut. yum.

    Mar 8, 2010 | 11:28 am

  12. tipat says:

    I so love the idea of pili nut brittle dipped in dark chocolate. Way to go MM! I’m thinking of trying the pili nut cake except that i’m sure i’ll be using almonds. :-)

    Mar 8, 2010 | 11:36 am

  13. pia l. says:

    I was able to bring pili nuts into the US. They were candied by my grandmother first then packed in ziplocks. I listed it on my declaration form and the customs officer didn’t even ask me questions about it.

    Mar 8, 2010 | 12:54 pm

  14. chrisz says:

    I bring all sorts of pili delicacies when I go to the US. Never had problems with US Customs. Sorsogon produces the best variety. Albay processes the raw nuts best. Of all the pili delicacies, the mazapan that a family produces in Camalig (a town in Albay) is the hands down winner. Have given it as gifts to foreigners who swear that if packaged well, it can go global. Now , they’re growing pili in industrial quantities in Calbayog. Looks like the nut can be a money making venture.

    Mar 8, 2010 | 5:13 pm

  15. Kat says:

    My grandpa is from Albay, and he used to get stocks of this regularly from his siblings there. My grandma (who is Ilocana but loves pili), my mom & her siblings absolutely love this and eat it often with bagoong if we have it around. I love the nut, but when I tried eating pili itself, I didn’t like it. I always associate this with my family hehe.

    Sidenote: I was surprised to see that my location is Hong Kong. Must be my IP. :)

    Mar 8, 2010 | 5:59 pm

  16. Divina says:

    I’ve been wanting to get hold of pili nuts but the best way is to get it from other province. I absolutely love them.

    Mar 8, 2010 | 8:32 pm

  17. Tonette says:

    Hi, I’m a Naguena based here in Japan. Last year, I was thrilled to find our local pili sold in specialty stores here. They’re from J. Emmanuel Pastries. Our family is a regular buyer of their products so to find them going global was absolutely exciting. It was a proud moment for a fellow Bicolano. When I need to give gifts to friends, I make sure to patronize their products. :)


    Mar 8, 2010 | 11:56 pm

  18. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    Back in the day, I was munching on some pilinut candy from the PI and shared some with my co-worker from Panama. She was taken back in memory, lamenting how she used to enjoy the same back home. Another coworker (a Filipina) was astounded that pilinuts could be found in Latin America.

    Mar 10, 2010 | 9:07 am

  19. Marketman says:

    Getter Dragon 1, to my knowledge, pili nuts are indigenous to the Philippine archipelago and thrive in only certain parts of it, possibly in neighboring Indonesia and Malay countries as well. So unless someone brought several pili nuts to plant in Panama or Central America (which is not impossible) during the Spanish occupation, I would guess that maybe the co-worker may have confused the nut with others of a similar taste and feel? Then again, key limes are apparently dayaps or limes indigenous to the Malay peninsula, so anything is possible, I suppose.

    Mar 10, 2010 | 9:40 am

  20. Artisan Jun says:

    Back in college (Ateneo de Naga Univ.), I did a research on pili nuts. This nut, based on my sources then, was originally endemic to the Philippines, specifically in Albay and in Sorsogon. The Philippines has been exporting tons of pili nuts (mostly raw) to other countries (European and Asian, if I recall correctly) even before the second World War. I came across an article claiming that this exotic nut was already being cultivated in Hawaii (similar climate as the Phils.’s) for a possible supply to the US. A team of foreign scientists conducted a physico-chemical study on this nut and concluded that pili is superior to any nut in the world based on all factors such as taste, nutrients, etc. (It is much better than the world famous macadamia nuts even!) It is no wonder then that other countries would try to cultivate pili nut trees in their countries to exploit it commercially. Everything seems to be amazing about this nut; the only thing that needs improvement is how we, Filipinos, should view and handle this enormous blessing. We should limit exportation of raw materials and exploit the market potential of food products using this nut. The traditional marzipan and sugar-glazed are so “tired” they need new company (hehe). I don’t even see a chocolate-coated pili nut offered in the market. (Geez, I don’t even know of a decent chocolate product made by a Filipino company! What we have are compound chocolates, if not the tableas.) I hope to see pili oil, pili bread, pili cake (I haven’t reviewed your post on this, MM! but i will be happy to do so soon…), pili cookies, pili macaroons, pili chocolate, pili candy, and the like. Other ideas?

    To those in Manila, in case you wanna try to concoct your own recipes in the future, it’s easy to find shelled and dried pili nuts in Killon in Quiapo. Go to Quiapo Church and ask around where Killon is. It’s just about two blocks away.

    I used to make (and offer commercially, but locally in Naga) Joon’s Polvoron de Pili. This superb polvoron is made from premium ingredients. I stopped operating when an imported cake flour, called Softasilk, pulled out from the Philippine market, apparently for rights issues. (Let me take advantage of this now: Anyone who knows where I can source this product here in the Philippines, please let me know! :-) Email me via joonbas@yahoo.com.). I tried local flours, but not one could match the over-all quality of Softasilk. As I did not want to cheat on my loyal clients, I stopped offering it :-( I’ll produce the polvoron again when Softasilk becomes available again hehe. Anyone from Rustan’s here, or Gourdo’s or other stores? Maybe you’d like to offer it; i’ll be among your regular customers! :-)

    Apr 4, 2010 | 5:37 pm

  21. Bogs Goyena says:

    I am also a Bicolano and residing in Daraga Albay Philippines. Presently, I have planted about 342 Pili trees in our farm. They are about 2 years old now. I plan to expand the number of trees within the year till first semester next year and convert the farm as Pili park in the future as available resources come. You are all welcome to a visit. Its best when they start to flower and bear fruit come 4-5 years from now. Its not a long wait now. Meantime, I keep busy trying to learn and cook menus using Pili pulp and kernel. I can extract pulp oil and kernel oil already and using personally the extracted organic virgin Pili kernel oil. I am developing Pili and its by products into full business in the near future.
    My email is cktrail@gmail.com

    May 1, 2010 | 5:09 pm

  22. Enrick says:

    Hello there, if you want to try some pilinuts, we have it….our pilinuts are from Maluku, Indonesia…totally fresh and delicious :)

    just contact me @ enricksanjaya@yahoo.com

    Nov 9, 2010 | 10:19 pm

  23. Via says:

    To all the pili product enthusiasts,we would like to introduce our pili product varieties,the finest of its kinds,the” molido,conserba,mazapan,and buding”..you may also try our cacao bar which is our specialty which is born out of our love for batirol,perfect for rice porridge with tsokolate,or the famous home made “champorado”,and also perfect in making chocolate truffles.
    for orders and inquiries of our tasty treats,you may call/text:09179199319 or 09174104565 or email:vhaloc@yahoo.com

    Dec 9, 2010 | 1:57 pm


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