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Everything You Need to Know About Pistachio Nuts

  • By JC's
  • September 18, 2019
  • In News

Quick: what’s a colour, a nut, and is also technically a fruit? If you guessed pistachio, then you’re correct.
Also known as the ‘smiling’ or ‘happy nut’ due to the hard casing forming a smiling face when it is split open, pistachios have been enjoyed by many different cultures since 7000BC. In fact, it was even mentioned in the Bible and was an indispensable form of nourishment for early travellers who used the ancient Silk Road trade route that linked China to the West.
But there’s more to this nut than their smile. Not only do they contain high nutritional value, but they are extremely versatile as they can be incorporated into a number of sweet and savoury recipes.
Ready to find out more about the green pistachio nut?

Going nuts for pistachios across the globe

 

Native to Western Asia and Asia Minor, archaeology suggests that pistachios were a common food as early as 6750 BC. The seed was then introduced into Italy around 35 AD. For a long time, the pistachio remained unknown to the rest of the world, until the 1880’s when imported pistachios became popular in the United States of America and Canada due to the arrival of Middle Eastern immigrants.

 

Once it was discovered that California offered the perfect growing conditions for pistachios due to its fertile soil and hot and dry climate, it was cultivated commercially in the Western world, and eventually was brought to Australia.

 

In Australia alone, we consume on average 3500 tonnes of pistachios per year. However, we only harvest an average of 1800 tonnes, which means that a good portion of our supply is imported from other countries, such as the US, China, Turkey, Syria and Iran. This is because they are cultivated best in extreme temperatures, such as the coldest winters and the hottest summers.

 

In 2017, the world production of pistachios neared 1.1 million tonnes. Pistachios are so popular that there’s even an International Pistachio Day (mark it on your calendars for February 26!)

6 health benefits of pistachios

 

Packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients, it’s safe to say that pistachios are definitely on the “good food” list. Here’s six health benefits of pistachios you might not have known:

 

  1. Pistachios are loaded with nutrients: A handful of pistachios (around 45) contain 156 calories, 3 grams of fibre, and are one of the most vitamin B6-rich foods around. If you recall from high school health class, vitamin B6 has the important task of regulating blood sugar and forming haemoglobin. Although a handful of pistachios do contain 12 grams of fat, 90% of these are healthy fats.
  2. Pistachios are high in antioxidants: Pistachios are known to contain antioxidants that have strong cancer-fighting properties and cardiovascular disease prevention. Furthermore, pistachios also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two carotenoids that help maintain eye health and overall immunity.
  3. Pistachios may help you lose weight: Rich in fibre and protein, pistachios are the perfect mid-afternoon snack for when those cravings hit. They can help you feel full for longer, which means you’ll generally eat less. Bonus points if you eat in-shell pistachios, as it takes time to shell the nut and subsequently slows down the rate of eating (also known as mindful eating).
  4. Pistachios are high in fibre: Eating pistachios daily has been said to improve your gut health. This is because all nuts, which are rich in fibre, help to move food through the gut and prevent constipation. Furthermore, their high fibre content means they may help reduce the risk of colon cancer.
  5. Pistachios are great for vegans and vegetarians: With protein accounting for almost 21% of the total weight of the nut, pistachios contribute almost 6% to a person’s daily protein needs. For plant-based diets, pistachios provide that much-needed protein.
  6. Pistachios make you feel good: No, really! Pistachios contain thiamine, which is also known as the “anti-stress” vitamin. This means doses of this nut will help you withstand stressful conditions and evade depression. It helps keep you energised.

Why are pistachio nuts so expensive?

 

No matter where you buy them, pistachios are three or four times more expensive than other nuts, making them almost a luxury.
Pistachio nuts are so expensive because the trees on which they grow on reach full-bearing around 15-20 years after being planted. Then, pistachio trees can only produce about 22kg of nuts each year. Furthermore, pistachios are sorted by hand and not by machine. Finally, pistachio trees can only grow in cool winters and hot summers, meaning that there’s only a few locations in the world where the trees can grow. Add any importing prices and tax, and the cost of pistachios quickly adds up.

How to roast pistachios

 

Pre-roasted pistachios taste fantastic, but have you ever thought about roasting them fresh? Doing so allows you to prepare according to your own liking; shorter roasting times will produce a mild flavour whereas longer times will result in stronger flavours. It’ll also fill your home with a warm and fragrant aroma that will entice visitors every time they drop by. The good news is that roasting pistachios is simple and something everyone can do themselves.

 

Preparation

 

A little bit of effort goes a long way. A good tip to keep in mind when it comes to roasting is to choose pistachios with slightly opened shells. The reason being that tightly closed shells indicate immature or unripe nuts which are unpleasant to eat – not to mention hard to open!

 

Cooking

 

Start by preheating your oven to 180°C and then take your pistachios and spread them across a baking tray. 

From there, bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the nuts begin to turn a golden brown colour. Be sure to check throughout the cooking process and shake your pan to prevent burning. 

Once cooked, remove pistachios from the hot tray and leave on a plate to cool. 

Then, place a bunch of the cooked nuts on a kitchen towel and draw the towel up around the nuts to create a loose bundle. Hold this with your hands and rub together vigorously to remove the papery shells. 

It’s that simple.

 

Storing roasted pistachios

 

Rest assured that your roasted pistachios will make a fantastic snack or cooking ingredient that can be added to a wide range of meals. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Alternatively, feel free to pop them in the freezer and enjoy these great treats for up to three months.

 

Creative ways to incorporate pistachios in your meals

 

Besides being a convenient, healthy and tasty snack, pistachios can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. If you’re not ready yet to indulge in a handful of these nuts on their own, there’s other ways that you can add pistachios to your diet and improve your overall health.
You’re probably aware of pistachio-flavoured ice cream, but did you know that you can even try sprinkling pistachio nuts over your favourite oven-bake fish or using them to make pesto sauce to act as an alternative to the more expensive pine nuts. It can even be used as a pizza topping or a salad garnish. Their rich green or purple colour can be added to various desserts and dishes, and they bring a crunchy texture to any dessert.

A wide range of nuts from J.C.’s Quality Foods

 

Of course, there’s no need to go nuts now by only consuming pistachios! All nuts contain nutritious value and should be combined with a healthy and balanced diet. J.C.’s Quality Foods has all of your foodie needs covered, delivering quality fruits and nuts that are grown and packaged in Australia. Get in touch to order yours today.