June 1, 2021

Sweet, Savory and Beyond – Why American Pistachios are a Must Have Ingredient for Your Kitchen

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American Pistachios are full of flavor and nutritious. Small, green, and convenient – they make the perfect snack. Among other things, the small nuts contain lots of good nutrients and fats. Pistachios are loved in sweet desserts just as much as in savory dishes. Find out what makes pistachios such an amazing ingredient.

A nut conquers the world

First planted over 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, pistachios are one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. The nut is even mentioned in the Old Testament, and legend has it, a favorite of the Queen of Sheba. Since these days as a royal favorite, pistachios have become a well loved nut that can be enjoyed by everyone for their taste and high nutritional content. In Europe, pistachios are commonly enjoyed as a roasted and salted snack that can be directly eaten. In the Middle East it is more commonly used in sweet treats, such as Baklava or Halva. 

The green stone fruit of the pistachio tree found it’s way to Europe via Italy. In northern Europe, the pistachio long remained unknown and was referred to as the “Latin Penny Nut” because of its introduction from Italian trade routes over the Alps. After World War II, pistachios became increasingly known as the popular snack it is today. 

In the late 19th century, immigrants brought pistachios to the USA.  Today this nut is widely available, including in common locations like vending machines, bars, and restaurants. The fertile soil and dry climate of California provides the ideal conditions for growing pistachios. Beginning in the 1930s, pistachio tree plantings emerged throughout California and later expanded into Arizona and New Mexico. 

The story of the U.S. pistachio industry is one of unparalleled success. Due to continuously increasing production, the industry has grown from supplying the domestic market to exporting the majority of its production to countries all over the world. 

Today there are 950 producers in the United States, with the vast majority of them in California. See the story of the American Pistachio

Video
provided by American Pistachio Growers

Growing and Harvesting 

Pistachio trees thrive in the dry climates of the American west and take seven to ten years to mature. Due to their long lifespan, it is said that pistachio trees are grown for your grandchildren and generations after that. With this in mind, American Pistachio Growers put great effort into maintaining the ecosystem so it can thrive well for future generations.

Harvesting occurs from late August to early October and is determined by the fruit and the shell. Once it has split, pistachios are harvested before they fall to the ground.

Prunings are composted and thereby return nutrients to the soil. Farmers use every part of the nut. Discarded shells find utility by paving farm country roads, while other byproducts find uses in multiple applications, including biofuels and even cosmetics. 

The strong commitment to wisely using natural and human resources and to responsible farming and efficient harvesting has contributed to making the United States number one in global commercial pistachio production today.

The Power of Pistachio 

Whether you are hungry or simply in search of a quick snack, American Pistachios can satisfy your appetite. Known for their nutty-mild taste, American Pistachios are not only tasty, but can offer nutritional value. 

Good things come in small packages and the nutritional benefits of pistachios are no exception. Not only are pistachios a powerhouse of many essential vitamins and minerals, protein and fiber, but they can help to promote health and well-being.

In addition to being a good source of protein, pistachios contain all nine of the essential amino acids in adequate amounts for adults, making them qualify as a “complete protein.”1 Pistachios join the ranks of a small number of plant proteins, such as quinoa, chickpeas, and soybeans, that have become popular among consumers following a full or part-time plant-based diet. 

This ready to snack protein is extremely versatile. Pistachios are a healthy add-on to breakfast muesli, a super convenient post workout snack, and a great, portable solution for on-the-go cravings.

From delightful pastries to surprising add-ons

With their crunchy kernel, American Pistachios often decorate granola or chocolates, are made into ice cream or baked into cookies. However, they are also popular as a garnish on savory dishes. Here are some recipe ideas that highlight the American Pistachio.

For a sweet treat, these delicious Vanilla Shortbread Cookies, are embellished with pistachios, which gives the classic cookie an additional visual and flavor boost. They are a popular delicacy among young and old. Only requiring four ingredients, this baked good, courtesy of Marian Bernick, is simple, yet everything one desires in a cookie.  

A not to miss summer specialty for your home ice cream parlor is Pistachio Gelato. Gluten-free and dairy-free, this creamy delight is best enjoyed on a sunny day. 

American Pistachios can also be processed into various savory specialties. A unique dish both in appearance and flavor is the Pistachio-Powered Portabella Mushroom. This simple, yet stunning recipe is by Jeremy Jones, a professional snowboarder and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. 

For seafood fans, the Pistachio & Chili Crusted Shrimp with Pistachio Rice courtesy of Sweet Paul Magazine is a must-try! The crust is simple and doesn’t overwhelm the sweet shrimp like a heavy batter sometimes does. Not to mention the perfect balance of chili, garlic and lime.

If this is just your style, then the Pistachio Crusted Calamari with Easy Beurre Blanc Sauce is another crispy and delicious seafood and pistachio opportunity to be added to your list. 

Whether you prefer sweet or savory, American Pistachios are versatile and a great addition to a variety of dishes. Enjoy!

1 Determination of PDCAAS and DIAAS values for raw and roasted American pistachio nuts