February 26th is National Pistachio Day.
Pistachios grow on a small tree native to Central Asia and the Middle East. Pistachio shells are naturally beige in color. When pistachios were picked by hand, importers added red or green dye to hide stains left on the shells. Now that pistachios are picked by machine, the shells are not stained. The dye is added to meet consumer demands.
Though technically a seed, the culinary world refers to them as nuts. Pistachios are eaten fresh, roasted and salted, as well as added to numerous dishes from savory to sweet.
Pistachios are an excellent source of vitamin B6, copper, and manganese and a good source of protein, fiber, thiamine, and phosphorus. They are also loaded with antioxidants.
- Excavations at Jarmo in northeastern Iraq found that pistachios were a common food as early as 6750 BCE.
- The Hanging Gardens of Babylon reportedly had pistachio trees.
- Remains of the Atlantic pistachio and pistachio seed along with nut-cracking tools were discovered in Israel’s Hula Valley, dated to 780,000 years ago.
- In the Middle East, people call the pistachio the smiling nut.
- In China, it is called the happy nut.
Be sure to enjoy some pistachios today!