National Pistachio Day is the time to celebrate this popular nut, which happens to be native to the Middle Eastern areas of the globe, including the areas that are now Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan and even southern Russia. It is thought that pistachio nuts date back pretty far into human history. In fact, they are believed to have been not only eaten by humans for at least 9000 years, but they have become an interesting part of some cultures and traditions!
Some historians have said that the famous hanging gardens of Babylon probably contained pistachio plants (which hang in groups similar to the way grapes do), some time around the year 700 BC. In fact, pistachios are only one of two nuts that are actually mentioned in the Old Testament portions of the Bible which are believed to have been assembled some time around 500 BC or so.
Pistachios are so special that, at one point, legend has it that the Queen of Sheba restricted the eating of pistachios to the royal court and forbade commoners to grow them!
It probably wasn’t until the 1st century AD that pistachios made their way to Europe as they travelled there with the Romans. Fast forward another several hundred years or so, and the pistachio was imported to the United States during the 1800s, at the request of various Americans who had roots in the Middle East. Finally, in the early 1900s, they became a popular snack food throughout the US and could be found almost everywhere, even in vending machines.
History of National Pistachio Day
For several decades, the producers and importers used red dye to hide flaws and try to make them more appealing to consumers. This dye had a tendency to leave red stains on the fingers (and sometimes faces) of the people who were eating them. Eventually, in the 1980s or so, the dye went by the wayside and now they are sold in their natural color.
The largest producer of pistachio nuts today is Iran. Actually, these little nuts are an indelible part of Iranian culture which is present at festivities, feasts, weddings and even funerals. Pistachios are also grown in other warmer areas of the world, including California, USA and Mediterranean Europe. It is believed that the Chinese are the largest consumers of this nut, and there has been a significant increase in popularity over the past several years here.
Pistachios are not just eaten as a snack, though. They are also used in various types of cooking. Their sweet flavour sometimes finds them used in desserts, such as the Lebanese dish baklava. It is also possible to sometimes find pistachio ice cream alongside more common flavours such as chocolate or strawberry.
Studies have even suggested that eating moderate amounts of pistachios can help keep the human heart healthy. They’re chock full of rich nutrients, particularly those that can lower the chance of cardiovascular disease.
So get ready for many different ways to appreciate and celebrate this nut on National Pistachio Day!
How to Celebrate National Pistachio Day
Take a cue from the cultural heritage of the pistachio and take the opportunity to celebrate with this nut in a whole variety of ways! Try out these ideas to get started:
Enjoy Eating Pistachios
An easy snack to take anywhere, just grab a bag of pistachios, crack open the shells and enjoy! Whether raw or roasted, in the shell or already shelled, the perfect way to honor this day is by enjoying a nutty treat.
Other ways to eat them include sprinkling some over a salad, grinding them up and using them in sauces, or chopping them and putting them on top of desserts such as ice cream, cakes or pastries.
Use Pistachios in Some Unique Recipes
Have fun in the kitchen by getting creative with pistachio recipes. Whether sweet or savory, these interesting and unique ideas for cooking and baking with this delicious nut will keep the family super happy:
- Pistachio Crusted Salmon. This savory dish just couldn’t be more delicious! Chopped pistachios make a delightfully crunchy coating for this tender and flaky pink fish. Extra healthy and super delicious!
- Asparagus, Goat Cheese and Pistachio Flatbread. Like a delicious personal pizza, pile the toppings on a piece of artisanal flatbread and turn it into a gourmet meal.
- Cranberry Pistachio Chicken Salad Sandwich. Who says sandwiches have to be boring? Take chicken salad to a whole new level by adding dried cranberries and chopped pistachios.
- Matcha Pistachio Popsicles. Make sweet summer treats healthier by making them with healthy matcha tea and delicious, crunchy pistachios.
Share Some Pistachios
What could be better than eating a delicious snack of pistachios alone? Well, sharing it, of course! Grab some snack size packs and pass them out to coworkers at the office, or bring some pastries made with pistachios to a gathering with friends and family. Better yet, take a friend out for a scoop of pistachio ice cream at a favorite ice cream shop or gelato stand. Delicious!
Learn More About Pistachios
Take this opportunity to get to know pistachios better and share the information with others! Start with these interesting facts about today’s favorite nut:
- Pistachios are filled with nutritional benefits, including at least 30 different minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients. In addition, one 1 ounce serving of pistachios has six grams of protein–the same amount as an egg.
- In China, pistachio nuts are considered to be the “happy nut” because the opening looks a lot like a smile. Because of this, they are often considered to be a symbol of good fortune and happiness, and are even given as gifts during the Chinese New Year.
- While they originated in the Middle East, pistachios actually grow very well in the California climates, making the United States the second highest producer of pistachios in the world.
- Pistachios are related to the mango fruit. They grow in clusters sort of like grapes and the nuts are surrounded by a hull that is fleshy. As the nuts ripen and the kernel grows, they almost always crack open.
Read Books Featuring Pistachios
While it might feel like a stretch to some, bookworms far and near can delight in National Pistachio Day as it gives them permission to curl up in a corner and enjoy a little light reading. Sure, most of them are kids’ fiction books, but that just means they’ll be a light read and easy to enjoy! Try out these for starters:
- The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danzinger. A teen coming of age fiction book that has been popular since the late 1970s, this tells the story of a girl who regularly takes solace in a bag full of pistachio nuts.
- Princess Pistachio by Marie-Louise Gay. This series of children’s books for early readers features a young girl who is sure that she has been kidnapped and her real parents are a king and queen.
- Probably Pistachio by Stuart J. Murphy. A great book for kids learning how to make educated predictions–along with a fun story.