The actual word pistachio is derived from the Italian 'pistacchio', a derivation from the Latin 'pistacium', deriving from the Greek 'pistákion/pistáke', which is believed to have its origin in Middle Persian language, where it finds its reference to 'pista'.
In the sixth century, Anthimus considered the pistachio to be healthy, which has significantly caused the pistachio to become and remain well known in the Late Antiquity in Europe. The pistachio is one of two nuts mentioned in the Bible.
There exist two ancient legends involving the pistachio. The older legend relates to the queen of Sheba, today's Ethiopia and Yemen. It is said that she claimed the whole pistachio crops for herself and her royal household and forbid consumption to her subjects. Just a little newer but still ancient is the other legend, taking place in Babylon at one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World. It is said that king Nebuchadnezzar planted a pistachio tree into his famous hanging gardens, paying homage to his wife.
The pistachio tree enjoyed a rather large way of success and travelling after it has been exported from Persia to ancient Greece and the other bordering countries. The commercial cultivation plays a big role in the Western world, especially in the English- speaking regions. After having been introduced to California,USA as a garden tree in 1854, people realized the culinary value of this nut and started to build up a large agricultural industry around this nut, finding its peak when the USA took the lead regarding the world's largest production amount, ever since a frost period in Iran in 2008.
The pistachio is a desert plant and is highly tolerant of saline soil. It has been reported to grow well when irrigated with water having 3.000 to 4.000 of soluble salts. Pistachio trees are fairly hardy in the right conditions and can survive temperaturs ranging between -10°C in winter and 40°C in summer. They need a sunny position and well-drained soil. Pistachio trees do poorly in conditions of high humidity and are susceptible to root rot in winter if they get too much water and the soil is not sufficiently free-draining. Long and hot summers are required for proper ripening of the fruit.
How long have pistachio nuts been around?
There is plenty of evidence suggesting that pistachio nuts were popular thousands of years ago. The pistachio tree probably originated in western Asia and Asia Minor, but it is found growing wild as far eastward as Pakistan and India. In Iran and Afghanistan, the nuts from wild pistachio trees are smaller than cultivated varieties, and they have an unusual, rather sharp, taste. This appeals to the nomadic tribes that live in these remote, inhospitable regions. Historically, the wild pistachio has been to the Asian nomad what the pine nut once was to the Indian in the American Southwest.
Where do pistachio nuts grow?
Most of the world?s pistachios are produced in Iran, Turkey and California. Some pistachio nuts are also grown in Syria, Afghanistan, Italy, India, Greece, Pakistan and Tunisia.
For hundreds of years pistachios have mostly been harvested from wild or semi-wild trees in the Middle East and Central Asia. However, around 1900, it became apparent that pistachios could be marketed profitably in the U.S. and Europe. Therefore, attention was devoted to developing formal, cultivated pistachio orchards, mainly in Iran and Turkey. In Afghanistan, small nuts that have the perfect green color are still harvested from wild trees. Unfortunately many wild pistachio trees have been eliminated due to forest clearance, destructive grazing by goats and the use of pistachio wood for making charcoal.
In Iran several excellent cultivars have recently been developed. In fact, Iran was the top supplier of pistachio nuts to the U.S. in 1979, providing 20 million pounds of nuts. When American hostages were seized in Iran and imports were cut back, the total of pistachios imported in the U.S. from Iran fell to 1 million pounds. As of now, there is so much political turmoil in Iran that the pistachio trade has been disrupted entirely, and prices have skyrocketed.
Another large supplier of pistachios to the U.S. is Turkey. Turkey has also selected and developed some promising cultivars. Most of the Turkish pistachio nuts come from the dry, barren foothills in western and southeastern Turkey.
What is the pistachio?
The pistachio is a member of the same botanic family (Anacardiaceae) as cashew, mango, sumac and poison oak. There are about a dozen or so species of Pistacia. Some, such as P. terebinthus, the ?turpentine tree? of Cyprus, exude turpentine. In fact, the turpentine of this species is so superior in quality to the common turpentine from the Scotch Pine, that it sells for a much higher price. Others, especially the mastic tree (P. lentiscus), are a source of a high-grade resin from which transparent varnishes are made, and of mastic, the main ingredient used in the Orient in the manufacture of chewing gum. In Turkey mastic is also used in the production of liquor. A few Pistacia trees produce small nuts. In the Middle East, an excellent edible oil is made from the very small, crushed nuts of P. terebinthus and P. atlantica. P. terebinthus, is the terebinth tree of the Bible, whose spreading branches provided shade for nomadic wanderers of patriarchal age.
The edible nuts of commerce that we are familiar with are produced only by P. vera, though seedlings of the aforementioned two species are used as rootstocks for budding and grafting P. vera.
How does the pistachio grow?
The pistachio tree grows slowly, eventually reaching a height and spread of 25 to 30 feet. It has no problem growing in poor soil and adverse climate conditions, such as low annual rainfall and stony terrain. It can grow quite well on steep, rocky slopes suitable only for goats. Though it can endure drought, it cannot survive in wet earth, thus it is very important to ensure the soil is well-drained. It grows best where winters are cool enough to break bud dormancy and where summers are long and hot enough for proper ripening of the nuts. The tree can handle cold and wind but not dampness and high humidity. Some of the areas in Iran where pistachios flourish have temperatures ranging from 15°F in the winter to over 110°F in the summer. The pistachio is a good candidate for developing some arid regions throughout the third world, where it is almost impossible to grow any other crop because of low rainfall.
A major difference between the pistachio and other popular dessert nuts is the characteristic green of its kernel. The entire kernel, not just its surface, has this coloration. Generally, nuts of a deeper green shade are more valued. The fruit grows in clusters, resembling grapes. The oblong kernel is covered with a thin, ivory-colored bony shell. When conditions are favorable, the shells split longitudinally prior to harvest, having the appearance of a laughing face. This is a desirable characteristic since the nuts are usually marketed in-shell, and when the shell is split it is easier to extract with the fingers. In unfavorable weather or other adverse conditions during nut growth and development, the shells remain closed. Turkish growers have a sorrowful expression to describe this unfortunate turn of events: ?Too bad, the pistachios are not laughing.? Unsplit nuts are not popular with the consumer and sell for a lower price.
How are pistachios cultivated?
The pistachio is usually propagated in California by budding or grafting selected scions of P. vera onto seedling rootstocks of P. atlantica, P. terebinthus and P. integerimma, These rootstock species are used because of their vigor and resistance to nematodes and soil borne fungi.
The pistachio is dioecious: male and female flowers, both of which are small and without petals, are borne on separate trees. The pollen is carried from male to female flowers by the wind. In California, Kerman is the most common female cultivar, while Peters is a prolific pollen producer. One male Peters tree can easily pollinate 8 or 10 female Kerman trees. When male trees are planted in an orchard, they are placed in locations where they will take advantage of prevailing winds.
The orchard should be established in deep, friable, well-drained soils to obtain maximum growth and productivity. Young pistachio trees are generally spaced 11 to 15 feet between trees in the row, and 22 to 30 feet between rows, depending upon soil conditions. Years later, when the trees become crowded, every other tree in the row may be removed to leave the remaining trees on a square.
Pruning is important during the early years of an orchard. High-headed trees permit easy maintenance with mechanical orchard equipment. Strong crotches should be developed to withstand the stress later on of power-driven shakers during the harvest.
Pistachio trees begin producing nuts in about 6 or 7 years. However, it is usually in the 15th to 20th year that full bearing is attained. 50 pounds of dry, hulled nuts per tree is a considered a good harvest. The trees do tend to bear a heavy crop one year, followed by little or none the following year, in a system of ?biennial bearing?. A pistachio tree can live and produce for centuries if conditions are right. In the Kerman region of Iran, there is a pistachio tree that is seven-hundred years old.
Although the pistachio tree can produce some nuts in poor growing conditions, its highest yields occur, of course, in an optimum agricultural environment. Like other fruit and nut trees, it responds very well to proper irrigation and application of fertilizer.
The most serious plant disease threatening the growth of pistachio trees in California is Verticillium wilt, a soil-borne fungus. It can quickly kill the trees. Since this fungus is frequently found in cotton, it is not a good idea to plant pistachio trees on land that was previously used for cultivating cotton, unless the soil is fumigated prior to planting.
Where do pistachios grow in the U.S.?
The only state which produces pistachios on a commercial scale is California, with approximately forty thousand acres planted. Trial plantings have also been attempted in Arizona and New Mexico. According to the California Pistachio Association, founded in 1972 and located in Fresno, the total crop is around 80 million pounds. About one-third is exported.
A pistachio boom in California in 1928 failed in the 1930?s because American growers depended on hand labor in those days. Despite the Depression, manual labor was comparatively expensive, and could not compete with cheap foreign labor in growing, harvesting and processing the nuts. Times have changed; foreign pistachio picking and processing still depends almost entirely on hand labor, while the California industry has become thoroughly mechanized.
Foreign vs. home-grown pistachios
Outside the United States, methods of harvesting pistachios are primitive. Women do most of the work. In Iran the ripened nuts are picked by hand or knocked off the trees with poles onto burlap spread on the ground. Some are hulled as soon as possible following the harvest, but the majority is dried in the hull to be hulled at a later convenient time. At that time, the nuts are soaked in water, which enables them to be easily removed by squeezing between the fingers.
Then the nuts are usually spread out in the sun to dry on stone, concrete or earth floors. Because of these crude harvesting and hulling methods, nutshells may be blemished and stained, appearing unappetizing. Importers in the U.S. use a non-toxic, red, food-grade dye to give the nuts visual appeal. Pistachio nuts may be coated with a thin layer of cornstarch and salt.
The relative merits of home-grown vs. foreign-grown pistachios is a controversial subject. American importers of Iranian and Turkish pistachios describe California pistachios as beautiful but tasteless. The California producers, on the other hand, claim their pistachios taste about the same as the imported nuts but are larger, fresher and easier to open.
When was the pistachio introduced into the U.S.?
In 1854 the Commissioner of Patents distributed seed for experimental plantings of pistachio in California, Texas and other southern states. In 1875 a few small pistachio trees, imported from France, were planted in Sonoma, California.
During the late nineteenth century, imported pistachios were popular among American immigrants from the Middle East. They were found in ethnic food shops, especially in New York City. In the 1920?s and 1930?s the colorful red- and white-coated nuts became available to the general public. They cost 5¢ per dozen nuts in vending machines located in subway stations and other public places. In those days these small-bulk nut-vending machines accounted for most pistachio nut sales.
In the early twentieth century the U.S. Department of Agriculture assembled a collection of Pistacia species and pistachio nut varieties at the Plant Introduction Station in California. In 1929 a U.S.D.A. plant explorer visited Iran and Turkestan to study pistachios. He brought back seed selected from about 90 different sources. One of these was later named Kerman, from the district of that name in Iran. Kerman eventually developed into a most important plant cultivar because of its large nut size and high percentage of split shells.
Under normal conditions the nuts hang well and may be left on the tree until most are ripe. At that time a single shaking will bring down the bulk of the mature nuts. Sometimes, trees that have just started to bear nuts are harvested by shaking the nuts from the trees onto canvas. Otherwise most are harvested mechanically by prune- or soft fruit-type harvesting equipment which consists of a shaker and a catching frame. A conveyor belt is positioned on both sides of the tree, carrying the nuts past a primary cleaner and deleafer, then dumping them into movable bins to be hauled to the processing plant. Two skilled machine operators can harvest about 1 acre of pistachios per hour.
Soon after being harvested, pistachio nuts must be hulled and dried. In fact, this has to be accomplished within 24 hours for the nuts to maintain their high quality and unblemished appearance. There are 3 types of machines that are useful in hulling pistachios. Abrasive vegetable peeling machines produce an attractive product but are limited to a batch of no more than 50 or 60 pounds at a time. Currently the harvest in California is so large that these machines are not suitable for this purpose. Then there are modified walnut dehulling machines that are quite satisfactory. But the bulk of the crop is hulled in machines consisting of 2 parallel rubberized belts rotating in the same direction, at different speeds. The nuts are fed continuously between the adjustable belts and emerge without hulls at the other end. Then they are washed and separated from stray blanks (empty shells) and immature nuts in a float/sink mechanism, where the empty blanks will float, while the mature, filled nuts will sink.
The nuts are dried with forced air at 150°-160°, reducing the moisture content, which may have been up to 45% in the freshly harvested nuts, to 5% in about ten hours. ?Electric eye? sorters remove blemished nuts, which can be dyed red or white and sold as dyed nuts, or shelled to be sold as nutmeats. Good quality splits are graded to four sizes, roasted, salted and packaged. About 90% of California pistachios are sold roasted and salted in their shell for snacking. Shelled pistachios are used commercially in confectionery, ice cream candies, sausages, bakery goods and flavoring for puddings.
The size of pistachio nuts is expressed by the number of nuts per ounce. Iranian pistachios range from 18 to 40 nuts per ounce, while California nuts are larger ? sometimes as few as 14 to the ounce. Since pistachio kernels are rather small and expensive they are, as a rule, not included in salt mixes with other larger tree nuts. Pistachios nuts are rich in oil, but due to the high price of the nuts, it does not pay to produce pistachio oil commercially.
Tree nuts are usually marketed ?in-shell? or ?shelled?. Pistachios and filberts are usually sold ?in-shell? to the retail trade, while almonds and pecans are generally sold shelled to the industry, which consists primarily of salters, confectioners, bakers and ice cream manufacturers. The pistachio nut is unique in the nut trade due to its semi-split shells. This enables the processor to roast and salt the kernel without removing the shell, while it also serves as a convenient form of natural packaging.
Pistachio (Dutch content)
Pistachenoten bevatten per 100 gram 533 calorieën. Ze bestaan voor 55% uit vet. Slechts 7,5% daarvan is verzadigd vet. Daarnaast bevat 100 gram pistachenoten 6 gram vezels, 17,5 gram eiwit en 8,4 gram koolhydraten. De noot is rijk aan fosfor, magnesium, kalium, ijzer, zink en calcium. Ook zijn pistachenoten een bron va vitamine B1, vitamine E en vitamine B6. Ze zijn zeer rijk aan antioxidanten. Personen die regelmatig pistachenoten eten hebben meer antioxidanten in het bloed. Deze stoffen zijn onmisbaar om ervoor te zorgen dat je gezond blijft.
Pistachenoten passen heel goed in dieet. Niet alle vet wordt door ons lichaam opgenomen. Het is goed voor mensen die willen afvallen.
Pistachenoten helpen bij milde vormen kan impotentie bij mannen. Dat komt omdat de noten rijk zijn aan het aminozuur L-arginine. Daardoor is het makkelijker voor bloedcellen om zich te verwijden. Verder hebben de noten ook een gezond effect op het bloed wat het krijgen van een erectie vergemakkelijkt.
De pistachenotenboom stamt van oorsprong uit het Midden-Oosten (met name Iran), waar hij eeuwenlang uitsluitend in het wild groeide. Tegenwoordig lukt het om de bomen ook in andere gebieden met een subtropisch klimaat aan te planten. De boom is verwant aan de cashew en mango, en groeit zeer langzaam, tot een maximale hoogte en spanwijdte van ongeveer 10 meter en kan honderden jaren noten produceren in de juiste omstandigheden. Pistachebomen zijn goed bestand tegen voedingsarme, steenachtige grond en barre weersomstandigheden, zoals grote droogte of temperaturen van -10°C in de winter tot 50°C in de zomer. Juist vochtige grond is slecht voor de pistacheboom, dus de grond moet goed gedraineerd worden zodat de wortels niet gaan rotten. Ook een hoge luchtvochtigheid is niet ideaal. Dit maakt de pistache tot een zegen voor de economieën van sommige ontwikkelingslanden met een zeer heet en droog klimaat, waar weinig andere gewassen verbouwd kunnen worden.
Lees ook: 7 redenen waarom pistachenoten gezond zijn
Er zijn een tiental verschillende rassen pistache, maar er is maar één soort die gebruikt wordt als eetbare noot zoals wij die kennen. Anderen worden bijvoorbeeld gebruikt om olie te maken, bijvoorbeeld omdat ze te klein zijn.
De pistaches hangen net als druiven in trossen bij elkaar. Als het weer optimaal is geweest tijdens de groei van de noten, zal de schil al opensplijten voordat de pistachenoot geoogst wordt. De bolster blijft dan wel intact. In de vakterminologie heten de noten die open springen “splits” en de noten die volledig gesloten blijven “nonsplits”. Dit is belangrijk voor de boeren, omdat gesloten noten veel minder populair zijn en dus minder opbrengen. De gemiddelde afstand tussen de bomen bedraagt vier à vijf meter in rijen die zeven à tien meter uit elkaar staan, afhankelijk van de ondergrond. Als de bomen na enkele jaren volgroeid raken, worden ze vaak om-en-om gekapt om ruimte te maken voor de resterende bomen, die dan als het ware in een vierkant staan. Het is belangrijk pistachebomen regelmatig te snoeien tijdens hun groei, zodat ze een vorm krijgen die zorgt dat landbouwmachines er makkelijk bij kunnen en zodat hun takken stevig genoeg worden om later niet te bezwijken aan de krachten van de trilmachines die men gebruikt voor de oogst.
Het duurt ongeveer 6 jaar voordat pistachenoten beginnen te groeien aan een boom, maar een volledige productie wordt pas tussen het 15e en 20e jaar behaald. Een goede oogst bedraagt ongeveer netto 25 tot 50 kilo noten, al wordt een jaar met een hoge opbrengst afgewisseld met een lagere oogst het volgende jaar. Ondanks dat de pistacheboom al noten levert in barre en droge omstandigheden, zorgt een goede irrigatie en bemesting zeker voor een hogere productie.
Zoals vermeld worden in geïndustrialiseerde landen machines gebruikt om de noten uit de bomen te laten trillen en meteen op te vangen en te verzamelen. Op deze manier kan één hectare bomen in ongeveer 2,5 uur geoogst worden. In bijvoorbeeld Iran wordt nog gewoon met een houten stok tegen de takken geslagen om de noten te laten vallen op juten vloerkleden. Dit werk gebeurt grotendeels door vrouwen.
Gerechten met pistachenoten: lekker, gezond en origineel
Verwerking van pistachenoten
Bij Californische pistaches dient de bolster direct na het oogsten, in elk geval binnen 24 uur, verwijderd te worden om verkleuring van de schil te voorkomen. Bijvoorbeeld Turkse pistaches kunnen in hun bolster blijven totdat ze verwerkt worden. Ze worden vervolgens in de zon gedroogd en gewassen. Lege schillen blijven drijven en worden verwijderd, de volgroeide noten vallen naar de bodem. Hierna worden de pistaches opnieuw gedroogd, deze keer in droogovens, tot tien uur lang op ongeveer 60°C totdat hun vochtpercentage is gedaald van 45% naar zo’n 5%. De noten worden op formaat gesorteerd en gekoeld opgeslagen. Omdat ze onbehandeld beter te bewaren zijn, worden ze meestal rauw getransporteerd om bij de notenspecialist vers geroosterd te worden. Supermarktnoten worden vlak voor het transport geroosterd. De beste pistaches komen uit Iran and de Perzische landen.
Pistachio inBazar Collection