- The Pistachio is a small tree up to 10 m tall, native to
mountainous regions of central and southwestern Asia such as the Kopet Dag
mountains of Turkmenistan southwest to northeastern Iran and western
Afghanistan. It has deciduous pinnate leaves 10-20 cm long. The plants are
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 with a hard, whitish shell and a striking light green
kernel, having a very characteristic flavour.
- Pistachios mature
rather slowly, reaching significant production a full seven to ten
years after planting. Peak production, it is believed, is reached at
about 20 years. Climate also plays a role in pistachio production. Too
mild a winter, or heavy rainfall during the pollination period, can
reduce yield. Pistachio trees require approximately 1,000 hours of
temperatures at 45 degrees F. or below to bring about the dormancy
necessary for good production.
pistachios are grown on various rootstocks. The Kerman variety is
budded to the rootstock when the rootstock is one year old. These
rootstocks were developed to achieve a healthier and more vigorous
plant. While pistachios have been grown in Europe, Asia and the Middle
East for centuries, they have only been a commercial crop in the
United States since 1976, when California harvested its first crop.
Today, the Kerman variety is the tree of choice for almost all
California pistachio growers.
- The processing
procedure begins with transportation of raw nuts to processing
warehouses, where they are weighed and provided with a label showing
the exact weight and the owner. Pistachios are unloaded and stored
temporarily and cleaned by means of flowing air. A sample for quality
classification is then taken. Nuts are peeled and peelings are
separated for possible later use.
- The top layer must
be removed from picked fruit which must be dried within 24 hours so
that shells do not become dirty and possibly contaminated with
dangerous aflatoxins. The peel closing nuts is removed by means of
machines having two rubber cylinders moving in the opposite directions
and rotating at different speeds. Pistachios are then stored in silos
depending on their quality and prepared for dispatch.
nuts are rich in heart-healthy oil, low in saturated fat, and are high
in dietary fiber, vitamin B6, thiamine, phosphorus and copper.
Pistachio oil is used both medicinally and cosmetically. Resin from
the trunk and branches can be obtained by tapping, and has medicinal
applications (to stop bleeding and dress wounds). The mesocarp (fruit
hulls) and leaf galls (caused by insect infestation) have been used
for tanning leather, and for dyeing.
production of pistachios has also grown rapidly during the past 20
years, but U.S. production has increased as a share of the world total
(California production comprises 98 percent of U.S. commercial
production). Iran produces about 57 percent of world supply, followed
by the United States with 21 percent. Iranian exports account for 64
percent of world exports again followed by the United States with 10
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