Pistachios – The Middle Eastern Nut

Botanically, as part of the cashew family, pistachio trees can live as long as 300 years old. The tree is at home in the Middle East and is one of the oldest crops worldwide. Although pistachios are often grouped as a nut, they are actually a stone fruit that is ready for harvest in early autumn, when the green pit separates from the hard shell and its skin turns a deep pink. 

Food Facts Food Facts

Pistachios

Gattung

pistacia

Calories

580 kcal per 100g

Nutrients

17.6g carbohydrate, 10g fibre, 45.4g fat, 20.3g protein per 100g

Season

available year-round

Storage

store cool and dry at 18 to 22°C

Shelf life

up to 12 months

Pistachios – Production

After harvest the outer skin is removed by a first rinse of the pistachios. Once dried, the pit expands and often splits the shell. In supermarkets, a number of different varieties of the green pits are available – peeled or with the shell on, salted, roasted or completely unprocessed. The biggest producers of pistachios are the USA, Iran and Turkey, however most of the pistachios available on the European market come from cultivation regions in Italy and Greece.

Pistachios – Pistachio Ice Cream and Mortadella

Many are only familiar with pistachios in their processed form. The green stone fruit provides the base for one of the most popular ice cream flavours. Chopped up, they can be found in mortadella, an Italian boiled sausage. However, unprocessed pistachios are also great as a snack, in muesli or as an elegant ingredient in sweet or savoury creations. Their flavour is a mix between an intense nuttiness, a pleasant sweetness and a subtle buttery note. 

Pistachios – Storage

Whole pistachios should be stored in a dry, dark and cool place. Cellars or pantries provide ideal conditions for the green pits. In their shells pistachios can keep for up to a year in these conditions. Peeled pistachios should be kept in the fridge in an air-tight container or frozen to make them keep longer. When frozen in an air-tight container, pistachios can last up to a year.

Pistachios – Uses

The subtle sweetness of pistachio lends itself well to many dishes. They can be added to cakes or muffins or used to garnish salads, soups and pastries. Many savoury dishes are also rounded off with the addition of pistachios. Middle Eastern recipes in particular feature pistachios frequently, for example a couscous salad with carrots, raisins, pomegranate and curry.

Pistachios – Flavouring

Occasionally the pistachio takes centre stage, for example in a delicious pesto made with pureed pistachios, garlic, parsley, parmesan and olive oil and seasoned to taste with salt, pepper, lemon juice and chilli. Another option is a sweet pistachio cream for breakfast – grind 100 grams of unsalted pistachios as finely as possible and mix with 40 grams of soft butter, 60 grams of melted white chocolate, two table spoons of icing sugar and a pinch of salt. 

Pistachios – Rich in Fibre and Protein

Unprocessed pistachios are still relatively high calorie with 600 calories per 100 grams. Nevertheless, they can have a positive effect on your general wellbeing as they are rich in fibre, which aids the digestive system when consumed with enough liquid. The protein in pistachios has a positive effect on muscle maintenance and development and the high unsaturated fatty acid content keeps cholesterol levels steady. In addition, pistachios contain potassium, which maintains blood pressure. 

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