Pistachios - green nuts

Pistachio trees were first cultivated in Western Asia. Also known as the green almond, the pistachio is related to the cashew. The 20-foot tall trees thrive in stony, poor soil under high heat and with little or no rainfall, but cannot tolerate humidity or excessive moisture conditions. These trees live for centuries with no care necessary. In fact, Iran boasts of a 700-year-old tree still living.

Pistachios were brought to the United States in the late 1890's by a Syrian immigrant. Pistachios are currently cultivated as a commercial crop in California, Italy, Turkey, and Iran, with the United States being the second largest producer in the world.

One of the most popular uses of pistachios is in pistachio ice cream and desserts. The kernels are often eaten whole, either fresh or roasted and salted and are also used in ice cream and confections such as baklava. The shell of the pistachio is naturally a beige color, but it is sometimes dyed red or green in commercial pistachios.

Originally the dye was applied by importers to hide stains on the shells caused when the nuts were picked by hand. However most pistachios are now picked by machine and the shells remain unstained, making dyeing unnecessary (except that some consumers have been led to expect coloured pistachios.)
The trees are planted in orchards and take approximately seven to ten years to reach significant production. Trees are usually pruned to size to make the harvest easier Pistachio nuts are highly flammable when stored in large quantities, and are prone to self heating and spontaneous combustion.

PISTACHIO DESSERT submitted by H. Ahrens Avon, Ohio

Both creamy and crunchy, this fabulous frozen dessert is a favorite at our house. You'll love the pistachio flavor and toffee candy topping.


1 cup crushed butter-flavored crackers
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup cold milk
1 package (3.4 ounces) instant pistachio pudding mix
1 quart vanilla ice cream , softened
1 carton (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 (1.4 ounces each) Heath candy bars, crushed

In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs and butter. Press into an ungreased 9-in. square baking pan. Bake at 325° for 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Stir in ice cream; pour over crust. Cover and freeze for 2 hours or until firm. Spread with whipped topping; sprinkle with crushed candy bars.
Cover and freeze for 1 hour or until firm.
Yield: 9 servings.

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