Pistachios are grown in climates that
have hot dry summers and cold winters. Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Italy and the
United States (California) now cultivate pistachios. The Middle Eastern nuts
are more expensive but have more sweetness and depth of flavor.
The tan shell of the pistachio nut is
almost impenetrable before the nut matures. Once it ripens though, the shell
cracks open to reveal a delicate, sweet flavored, soft- textured, pale green and
purple nut with a papery reddish-brown skin.
The pistachio nut used to be dyed a
glaring pink-red so the nut would stand out (do not use this type in baking).
Today they are still sold this way but can also be found in their natural
state. Available year round shelled and unshelled, raw or roasted, salted or
Pistachios are used in both sweet
(cookies, breads, ice creams and as a garnish) and savory dishes (particularly
Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Indian cuisines).
As with other nuts they should be
stored in the refrigerator or freezer (about 6 months) in airtight containers or
Pistachios are rich in calcium,
thiamine, phosphorus, iron and vitamin A.