Almost 100% of the pistachios grown in the U.S. are grown in California, mostly in counties in the Central Valley area.
Pistachios are a high value crop, and rank #5 in California’s agricultural exports, after almonds, dairy products, wine, and walnuts.
The pistachios grown here are the type called “Kerman”, which originated in Iran. I used to shop at a Middle East market when we lived in the East Bay that sold delicious baklava types of desserts, many featuring pistachios inside, or sprinkled on top. It must play a big role in the food of Iran and the region.
This chart of the top 10 world producers of pistachios is interesting because though Iran leads in production, the yields per ton/hectare are significantly higher in the U.S, and high in Turkey.
So, the industry here in California must be doing something different, if they can produce more nuts per tree, or perhaps they developed varieties with greater yields.
I used to drive past what seemed like endless pistachio orchards during trips to Southern California, when my grandchildren lived in San Diego.
If I did not want to take Highway 101, I would cross over on another highway in Paso Robles, to get to Highway 5, the main artery freeway to Southern California.
The crossover part of the trip going towards Lost Hills was the area where a lot of pistachios are grown. It must thrive in this part of California.
I do wonder if the drought situation we face here will affect the orchards. Since pistachios are native to desert areas, probably not, and hopefully they will live on past the drought years.
Pistachio trees can produce nuts after 7 years, and peak production is at around 20 years. I’ve read that they can continue to produce nuts until 50, and even at 80 years old, but by then, the trees are too big for the nut harvesting machines.
Do you remember the red-dyed pistachios? I think the first time I had pistachios, we still lived in the Philippines — and they were red. It only took a few nuts to turn my fingers, tongue, and lips red.
It turns out that the beige shells of pistachios can have stains due to hand-harvesting, so manufacturers dyed the nuts red to hide the stain. Who knew!
They don’t do that anymore because pistachios are now harvested by machines…so no more stain problems. Good thing, because who knows what mystery red dye # was used. I think I would rather have my pistachios “natural” anyway…
I’ve seen a variety of humorous pistachio commercials over the last year, through a marketing campaign by the “Wonderful” brand. The most memorable for me featured Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao.
Have you seen this ad? They may have just played in certain regions, which is why I am posting it.
As a Filipino-American, it is good to see Manny Pacquiao reach a level of success and appeal to promote and endorse products in the U.S. — even if I don’t like to watch boxing. Here is another of his product endorsements (Hennessy) from the blog Taking a Deep Breath (and a write up about Manny’s recent fight against Mayweather).
Do you remember the red-dyed pistachios? What is your favorite way to eat pistachios? By itself or as a part of something else, like the baklava type desserts? I remember getting green colored pistachio ice cream when my daughter was younger, but that ice cream flavor does not seem to be very popular these days.