Iran is the largest producer of pistachios and well-known with this delicious nut. Production of the nut in Iran dates to the fifth century B.C. In 2016, Iran produced 261,000 tons of Kerman pistachio, 50% of which was exported. According to official figures, Iran earned as much as $1.2 billion from the export of 130,000 tons of pistachios in 2016, making it the biggest source of income in the agricultural sector.
The pistachio tree is medium in size and grows to about 10 meters in height. This green colored nut comes enclosed in an egg-shaped shell. There are many varieties of pistachio, the Kerman variety being the most popular.
Kerman province in Iran was considered to be the first and the largest producer for so-called green gold pistachio nuts.That, however, changed in recent years. In 2012, the United States for the first time became the largest producer and exporter of pistachios, as production declined in Iran, mainly due to water shortages triggered by climate change and uncontrolled use of underground reserves.
Iran and the United States together account for 70-80% of global pistachio production and have been competing for the top spot as both the biggest producer and exporter over the past several years. Also recently, Australia, Turkey and Spain have increased production, thereby allowing them to join the export market, yet another factor that could exacerbate the problems of the Iranian pistachio industry in the near term.
The Kerman pistachio is a broad, bushy, deciduous tree which grows slowly to a height and spread of 25 to 30 feet, with one or several trunks. The trees are inclined to spread and droop, and may initially need staking. Their open habit and attractive foliage make them valuable ornamentals. Under favorable conditions pistachio trees live and produce for centuries.
Kerman pistachio is dioecious with male and female flowers on separate trees. Male and female trees must be present for fruit to set, or a branch from a male tree may be grafted on a female tree. The small, brownish green flowers are without petals and borne on axillary racemes or panicles in early summer. Wind carries the pollen from the male to the female flowers.
Pistachio should be planted in full sun. The size of the slow growing trees can be further controlled by pruning. When planting, avoid rough handling since the budded tops are easily broken away from the understock. The nuts are harvested when the husk or hull covering the shell becomes fairly loose. A single shaking will bring down the bulk of the matured nuts, which can be caught on a tarp or canvas. A fully mature tree may produce as much as 50 pounds of dry, hulled nuts. The hulls should be removed soon after to prevent staining of the shells. To enhance splitting, the hulled nuts may then be dipped into water to moisten the shell and spread out in the sun to dry. One method of salting the split nuts is to boil them in a salt solution for a few minutes, then redry and store them. Stored in plastic bags pistachios will last for at least 4 to 6 weeks in the refrigerator. Frozen they will last for months.
The pistachio tree belongs to the Anacaradiaceae family and is native to Syria, Greece and Western Asia.
Some reasons you should eat pistachio:
1. Eating Kerman pistachio in moderation can be very beneficial for the health of the heart. It is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids that help to reduce high blood pressure.
2. The presence of powerful antioxidants like Vitamin C and E in pistachio safeguards the skin against UV radiation damage.
3. One of the most talked about benefits of pistachio is its effect on skin health. Healthy-looking skin can be a distant dream if you are not consuming pistachio on a regular basis.
4. Kerman pistachio influences the insulin levels and controls blood circulation, preventing the onset of acne. Blood sugar shifts often produce excess oil, leading to pimples and acne.
5. Kerman pistachio contains selenium, which works in conjunction with Vitamin E to reduce skin inflammation and the appearance of scars.