Pistachios are harvested in the late summer and early fall.
Contrary to what most of us assume, pistachios are not technically nuts but seeds—they grow in bunches on trees. Pistachio trees, native to the Middle East, were introduced to the Mediterranean before being planted in the United States in the mid-1800s. Iran is the world’s largest producer of pistachios, with California coming in second—quite a feat considering the state didn’t harvest its first commercial crop until 1976.
The natural green hue of pistachios comes from chlorophyll—the same pigment that makes leaves green. Though you can still find red-dyed pistachios, which look festive around the holidays, the dying process was originally used to hide blemishes the seeds incurred from hand picking. Today’s mechanized harvesting methods nearly eliminate the blemishes and thus the need to dye them.
Pistachios add crunch to any recipe or, strategically placed in party bowls, pizzazz to any gathering. Try these delicious pistachio recipes and add a colorful, healthful twist to your day.