View Full Version : Question about Pistachios
02-26-2010, 01:23 PM
I think they split open naturally so I did a quick wiki check and now am more confused then before!
this is the passage from wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pistachio
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.[clarification needed] Commercial cultivars vary in how consistently they split open.
the italics and bold is by me--what does that mean? From the first passage I gather they naturally split and then we roast them and salt them and that is what I buy at the store. Is that correct?
02-26-2010, 01:29 PM
It means that breeders of pistachios have selected for shells that split open, i.e., they looked for plants that had that trait naturally (at least for some shells on each plant), and cultivated that kind. It's like orange growers selecting for oranges that are larger and/or sweeter than naturally growing oranges. Selective breeding (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_breeding) (in Wiki)
02-26-2010, 01:52 PM
Thanks Giles-that makes sense. I didn't read it that way when I first read the article but now that you point that out it makes sense now.
I originally had thought they were cracked open as part of the cooking and salting process. So when I have pistachios that don't open up, I assume they are still good? Just didn't pop open right? They aren't like mussels or clams that if they don't pop you don't eat them.
02-26-2010, 01:55 PM
I've eaten uncracked pistachios -- or at least, uncracked before I attacked them with a nutcracker. Sometimes there's little or no nutmeat inside, so you don't bother eating those, but apart from that they seem fine.
02-26-2010, 03:53 PM
Yes, the uncracked pistachios are perfectly fine. It never ocurred to me to equate them with shellfish that didn't open! :)
For the record, in the Horseshoe household, uncracked pistachios = squirrel food. They're just not worth dealing with when you have human teeth, and are better suited to feeding the wildlife, which doubles as entertainment for us and the cats.
02-26-2010, 03:58 PM
uncracked pistachios = squirrel food
Good idea. I usually just toss 'em with the shells.
02-27-2010, 04:02 AM
From the first passage I gather they naturally split and then we roast them and salt them and that is what I buy at the store. Is that correct?Not quite.
That is what would happen, if we left them to ripen on the tree. But that is only done for some (more expensive) pistachios. Most of them are picked while still not fully ripened, transported to processing plants, dyed the red color of naturally ripened pistachios (actually, a rather unnatural shade of red), and mechanically split.
Just like many of our fruits & vegetables.
Bananas, for example, are picked while still green and hard, shipped to storage facilities, kept in sealed, temperature-controlled lockers, and only triggered to ripen just before they are shipped to grocery stores, and then sold within 2-4 days.
Most tomatoes are also picked green, shipped & stored for a while before being sold in the stores. Or you can buy local 'vine-ripened' tomatoes, at quite a bit higher prices (but much better taste!).
dyed the red color of naturally ripened pistachios
I'm confused. The only pistachios I've eaten have light tan shells and green nuts inside.Even my pistachio crackers had green nuts in them. Where does the red factor in? To make the shells tan?
Springtime for Spacers
02-27-2010, 05:36 AM
Top tip: to open the ones that have split but not quite enough prise them open with another piece of shell.
02-27-2010, 09:26 AM
I'm confused. The only pistachios I've eaten have light tan shells and green nuts inside.Even my pistachio crackers had green nuts in them. Where does the red factor in? To make the shells tan?Not sure how old you are or where you're from , but at least in the USA ...
For many years, most pistachios were dyed a very unhealthy-looking shade of bright red. I believe the packing companies believed the natural mottling of the shell & the green/tan color of the nutmeat didn't look palatable to 1950s Americans. The bright red disguised the real color. I recall as a kid in the 60s wondering why the nuts were red while the ice cream was green.
Iran used to be the source of most of the world's pistachios. Since the revolution there, California has taken over the US supply and a lot of the rest of the world too. The California nuts are very rarely (never?) dyed red. I recall reading that the growers did a bunch of breeding to get a nut whose shell looked uniform & "safe" to eat.
02-27-2010, 11:42 AM
I've been wondering what happened to the red ones. I kind of liked that. Does anyone make the red ones anymore? Haven't seen them since I was a kid.
02-27-2010, 01:36 PM
They aren't like mussels or clams that if they don't pop you don't eat them.
This is one of those pervasive food myths its hard to get rid of. There's nothing wrong (http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/04/1067708208854.html?from=storyrhs) with mussels that don't open. It's the ones that are open before you get them you should avoid.
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