|Pistacia vera |
|Pistacia vera Kerman fruits ripening|
|Salted roasted pistachio nut with shell|
|Pistacia vera |
Pistacia vera often is confused with other species in the genus Pistacia that are also known as pistachio. These species can be distinguished from P. vera by their geographic distributions (in the wild) and their nuts. Their nuts are much smaller, have a strong flavor of turpentine, and have a shell that is not hard. The word pistachio is a loanword from Persian word پسته Peste via Latin.
HistoryThe modern pistachio nut P. vera was first cultivated in Western Asia, where it has long been an important crop in cooler parts of Iran. It appears in Dioscurides as pistakia πιστάκια, recognizable as P. vera by its comparison to pine nuts. Its cultivation spread into the Mediterranean world by way of Syria: Pliny in his Natural History asserts that pistacia, "well known among us", was one of the trees unique to Syria, and in another place, that the nut was introduced into Italy by the Roman consul in Syria, Lucius Vitellius the Elder (consul in Syria in 35CE) and into Hispania at the same time by Flaccus Pompeius. The early 6th-century manuscript De observatione ciborum (On the observance of foods) by Anthimus implies that pistacia remained well known in Europe in Late Antiquity.
More recently, pistachio has been cultivated commercially in the English speaking world, in Australia, New Mexico, and in California where it was introduced in 1854 as a garden tree. David Fairchild of the United States Department of Agriculture introduced hardier cultivars collected in China to California in 1904 and 1905, but it was not promoted as a commercial crop until 1929. Walter T. Swingle's pistachios from Syria had already fruited well at Niles by 1917.
HabitatPistachio is a desert plant, and is highly tolerant of saline soil. It has been reported to grow well when irrigated with water having 3,000–4,000 ppm of soluble salts. Pistachio trees are fairly hardy in the right conditions, and can survive temperatures ranging between −10°C (14°F) in winter and 40°C (104°F) 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 hot summers are required for proper ripening of the fruit.
The Jylgyndy Forest Reserve is a forest preserve protecting the native habitat of Pistacia vera groves, located in Nooken District of Jalal-Abad Province of Kyrgyzstan,
DescriptionThe bush grows up to 10 meters (30 ft) tall. It has deciduous pinnate leaves 10–20 centimeters (4–8 inches) long. The plants are dioecious, with separate male and female trees. The flowers are apetalous and unisexual, and borne in panicles.
The fruit is a drupe, containing an elongated seed, which is the edible portion. The seed, commonly thought of as a nut, is a culinary nut, not a botanical nut. The fruit has a hard, whitish exterior shell. The seed has a mauvish skin and light green flesh, with a distinctive flavor. When the fruit ripens, the shell changes from green to an autumnal yellow/red and abruptly splits part way open (see photo). This is known as dehiscence, and happens with an audible pop. The splitting open is a trait that has been selected by humans. Commercial cultivars vary in how consistently they split open.
Each pistachio tree averages around 50 kg of seeds, or around 50,000, every two years.
Cultivationorchards, and take approximately seven to ten years to reach significant production. Production is alternate bearing or biennial bearing, meaning the harvest is heavier in alternate years. Peak production is reached at approximately 20 years. Trees are usually pruned to size to make the harvest easier. One male tree produces enough pollen for eight to twelve nut-bearing females. Harvesting in the United States is often accomplished by using shaking equipment to shake the nuts off the tree.
diseases (see List of pistachio diseases). Among these is infection by the fungus Botryosphaeria. This fungus causes panicle and shoot blight (i.e., kills flowers and young shoots), and can damage entire pistachio orchards.
In the early 1900s the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture assembled a collection of Pistacia species and pistachio nut varieties at the Plant Introduction Station in Chico, Calif. Commercial production of pistachio nuts began in the late 1970s and rapidly expanded to a major operation in the San Joaquin Valley. Other major pistachio producing areas are Iran and Turkey and to a lesser extent, Syria, India, Greece, Pakistan and elsewhere. In California, almost all female pistachio trees are the cultivar "Kerman". A sprig from a mature female Kerman is grafted onto a one-year-old rootstock. Male pistachios may be a different variety.
Bulk container shipments of pistachio nuts are prone to self-heating and spontaneous combustion because of their high fat and low water content.
|Country||Share of 2005 production |
|United States||140 000|
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||2,391 kJ (571 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||10.3 g|
|- lutein and zeaxanthin||1205 μg|
|Thiamine (Vit. B1)||0.84 mg (65%)|
|Riboflavin (Vit. B2)||0.158 mg (11%)|
|Niacin (Vit. B3)||1.425 mg (10%)|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.513 mg (10%)|
|Vitamin B6||1.274 mg (98%)|
|Folate (Vit. B9)||50 μg (13%)|
|Vitamin C||2.3 mg (4%)|
|Calcium||110 mg (11%)|
|Iron||4.2 mg (34%)|
|Magnesium||120 mg (32%)|
|Phosphorus||485 mg (69%)|
|Potassium||1042 mg (22%)|
|Zinc||2.3 mg (23%)|
|Manganese 1.275 mg|
|Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults. |
Source: USDA Nutrient database
In research at Pennsylvania State University, pistachios in particular significantly reduced levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL cholesterol) while increasing antioxidant levels in the serum of volunteers. In rats, consumption of pistachios as 20% of daily caloric intake increased beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL cholesterol) without lowering LDL cholesterol, and while reducing LDL oxidation.
In December 2008, Dr. James Painter, a behavioral eating expert professor and chair of School of Family and Consumer Sciences at Eastern Illinois University, described the Pistachio Principle. The Pistachio Principle describes methods of "fooling" one's body into eating less. One example used is that the act of de-shelling and eating pistachios one by one slows one's consumption allowing one to feel full faster after having eaten less.
dyed red or green in commercial pistachios. Originally dye was applied by importers to hide stains on the shells caused when the nuts were picked by hand. Most pistachios are now picked by machine and the shells remain unstained, making dyeing unnecessary except to meet ingrained consumer expectations. Roasted pistachio nuts can be artificially turned red if they are marinated prior to roasting in a salt and strawberry marinade, or salt and citrus salts.
Like other members of the Anacardiaceae family (which includes poison ivy, sumac, mango, and cashew), pistachios contain urushiol, an irritant that can cause allergic reactions.
The Chinese are the top pistachio consumers worldwide with annual consumption of 80,000 tons, while Americans consume 45,000 tons. Russians (with consumption of 15,000 tons) and Indians (with consumption of 10,000 tons) are in the third and fourth places.