Beautiful, green, and magically delicious. Salted, they are a great snack and unsalted, they are great for salads and in pastries. Archeological findings attest to the long history of pistachios, and it is believed that it may be the same 5‒10 m high member of the anacardium family that we can find today, with the potential to grow for 300-400 years. It grows in the wild in Central Asia and the Caucasus and is cultivated in Mediterranean countries, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Crimea. It is a capricious tree that is fragile, but its 15m deep roots can help it withstand frost and even the most severe heat and drought conditions.
The young, green fruit resembles a plum, but when it ripens, it dries and cracks revealing the nut. It is interesting to note that pistachios are harvested at night – apparently the sun causes the leaves to exude an unpleasant smell, sap, and oils that, in high concentration, can be harmful to humans.
Pistachioscontain up to 65% oil, protein, dietary fibre, and calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, which help reduce high blood pressure. It strengthens the body and improves heart and brain function. Pistachios are recommended for convalescents, anemia, and during periods of intense physical and mental activity.
Purchasing.There are two types of pistachios available in shops – naturally opened and mechanically opened. Choose those that are open at one end – closed ones indicated that they are not matured. The younger the nut, the fresher the aroma. They are available year round in many forms – fresh or roasted, salted or not, shelled or in the shell. For baking, choose unsalted.
Storing.You can blanche pistachios to clean them. Cleaned pistachios have a shorter shelf life than uncleaned ones and should be stored in airtight containers in the fridge. Uncleaned nuts can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 months or 1 year in the freezer. Cleaned nuts can also be stored in the fridge for up to 3 months, but definitely do not freeze. To regain their crunchiness, roast in the oven for 10‒15 minutes.