Pistachio nuts were once a rare delicacy of the Middle East and were
introduced to the United States in the mid to late 1890's. Today, pistachio
nuts are harvested from trees worldwide while California accounts for
the largest percentage of pistachio nuts in the United States. Pistachio
nuts grow on pistachio trees in grape-like clusters. The trees grow to
be around 10 to 12 feet tall and produce nuts within a few years of planting.
The nuts are harvested around mid-September when the shell, or hull, turns
tan in color and splits open slightly, revealing the greenish nut inside.
Occasionally you will see pistachio nuts in a red colored shell, however
these were dyed to appeal to consumers not grown naturally.
Pistachio nuts are a good source of potassium, fiber and protein. Pistachio
nuts have a distinct, delicate flavor that is ideal for all sorts of recipes
and they add sophistication to everyday snacks and appetizers. Because
of their split shell, pistachio nuts are quickly opened making preparing
for cooking or baking simple. When selecting pistachio nuts, look for
the characteristic split shell, as a closed shell is a sign of an unripe
nut. Since the nut is exposed in the shell, pistachio nuts are best stored
in airtight containers in the refrigerator and eaten or used within 1
to 2 weeks.
Pistachio nuts are popular in stir-fry and added to salads, but they
can be oven-roasted and eaten alone. When oven-roasting pistachio nuts,
watch them closely to prevent burning. Pistachio nuts can be coarsely
chopped as a topping to any dish, or substituted for another nut in a
favorite recipe. On online search for recipes specifically calling for
pistachio nuts will yield a plethora of results, providing many ways to
experiment with cooking with this delightful nut. Pistachio nuts are considered
in-season in late September through November making them an ideal nut
for holiday recipes.