Pistachio nuts have been used as food for more than 2,5 thousand years. Pistachios are called both the fruits in the form of greenish nuts, eaten, and the trees that give these fruits. The very word “pistachio” came into our language from France, where it, in turn, is borrowed from Latin and Greek. The word got into the Greek language from the Persian language from the word ‘pisteh ‘… It is Iran that is considered the birthplace of this wonderful plant. The word “pistachio” has been in the vocabulary of the Russian language since the XNUMXth century.
Pistachio nuts in the opened shell. Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com Cemg
Pistachio (Pistаcia) – a small genus of trees or shrubs of the Sumakhovye family (Anacardiaceae), common in subtropical, partly tropical regions of the Old and New Worlds. A widely known and valued plant in antiquity and a source of edible fruits is Real pistachio, Pistachio tree (Pistacia Vera) Is a species of the genus pistachio.
Calling pistachios nuts is not entirely correct from a botanical point of view, since the fruit of the pistachio tree is a drupe. What we call a nut is an intracarp (bone) just like the beloved almond. However, in cooking and in everyday life, it is fixed that nuts are any edible fruits consisting of a shell and an edible kernel.
History of pistachios
For thousands of years, pistachio trees have been growing in Western Asia, from Syria to Afghanistan. They were especially revered in Persia and were considered a symbol of wealth there. Pistachios were prized for their creamy taste and nutritional value; they were a favorite nut in the imperial court of the Queen of Sheba. Interestingly, pistachios are one of only two nuts mentioned in the Bible.
During the Roman Empire, the pistachio tree was introduced to Greece and Italy from Syria. Some historians point out that after the fall of the Roman Empire, the cultivation of pistachios in Italy ceased, but later they were reintroduced to Sicily by the Arabs after the conquest of the island.
Currently, pistachios are grown in Iran, Greece, Syria, Spain, Italy, Turkey, USA and other countries.
In the New World, pistachios began to be cultivated commercially in the late 1890s in California. Today, the annual production of pistachios in the United States is second only to Iran, the largest producer in the world. The vast majority of the world’s pistachio supply is consumed in the United States.
How do pistachios grow?
The pistachio tree is sometimes called the green almond. This tree, which sometimes grows up to 10 meters high, grows on rocky, poor soils, steep slopes and in areas with cool winters (pistachio tree tolerates frost up to 20 degrees). It tolerates drought well, is unpretentious in care.
The trunk of a true pistachio is curved, usually inclined and ribbed. The bark on old branches is light gray, on annuals it is reddish-brown. The roots go 10-12 m deep and spread 20-25 m around.
Pistachio is a dioecious plant. Stamen flowers in dense, complex, rather wide panicles, 4-6 cm long. Pistillate flowers in sparser and narrower panicles, about the same length, perianth of three to five oblong, unequal, slightly wider than in staminate flowers, leaves 2-4 mm long.
The fruits of the present pistachio are large (several times larger than in other species of this genus) drupes 0,8-1,5 cm long, 0,6-0,8 cm wide. When ripe, the pericarp is easily detached. The seed kernels are greenish, edible, oily.
Pistachio blooms in March – May. Fruiting in July – September.
Beautiful leaves and clusters of reddish-wrinkled fruits make it attractive as an ornamental plant as well.
Pistachios are harvested in late July – early September. Nuts are first dried in the sun – after which they can be stored, but not more than one year. Sometimes they are also soaked in brine and fried.
Nuts are harvested when the outer husk covering the nut has weakened. They fall easily enough if the tree is shaken. The husk is covered with a pale green walnut enclosed in a beige body. One tree can produce about 25 kilograms of shelled nuts. When placed in an airtight package, roasted pistachios will last for several months. If frozen, they will be stored for many years and retain their flavor and minerals.
Pistachio is considered one of the best “nuts”, 80-90% of pistachios (fried and salted in a shell) are consumed as a snack. Unroasted, shelled pistachios have a sweet taste and are used in cooking.
Useful properties of pistachios
Unsalted pistachios are a very healthy food, however, they are rich in fats. This nut is high in potassium, low in sodium, helps regulate fluid balance in the body, and normalizes blood pressure. Pistachios are an excellent source of protein and contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, thiamine, zinc, vitamin B6 and vitamin E.
Pistachios have low cholesterol content compared to other nuts. They are high in fiber and low in saturated fat, but high in monounsaturated fat, which leads to a reduced risk of heart attack. Pistachios also contain an antioxidant that can lower the risk of diseases such as cancer.
Pistachios are used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Indian cuisines, and unsalted pistachios are a great addition to a vegetarian diet. They are excellent when used as ingredients in snacks, breads, cookies, ice cream and other sweets, muffins, pâtés, salads, sauces, fish and meat fillings, and for garnishing.
The healthy attributes of pistachios are prized in many countries, especially Syria, where visitors are often given a bag of pistachios as a parting gift.