A Brief History of Pistachios

The pistachio has a long and interesting history. It has been cultivated for centuries and is native to the Middle East. Pistachios are one of the oldest flowering nut trees. Recent archeological evidence suggests that humans were enjoying them as early as 7,000 B.C. Flourishing in hot climates, pistachios spread from the Middle East to the Mediterranean, quickly becoming a treasured delicacy among royalty, travelers and common folk alike. Lucius Vittilius, brought the first pistachios from the Middle East to Rome during the reign of Emperor Tiberius (14-37 AD). It was quickly noticed that these also grow very well in favorable locations of Italy. Several thousand years earlier the very tasty pistachios were already known in Indonesia, Persia (Iran), Mesopotamia, at the eastern shores of the Mediterranean sea and in North East Africa. In northern Europe the pistachios only became known after the cultivation was started in the Arabic ruled Sicily. First trials were made with pistachios in USA at the start of the last century, but until 1940’s the nuts were mainly imported from Iran and Turkey.

Pistachio’s high nutritional value and long storage life also made it an indispensable travel item among early explorers and traders. Along with almonds, pistachios were frequently carried by travelers across the ancient Silk Road that connected China through Iran and the rest of the Middle East, to the West.

Current main world suppliers are Iran and The U.S (California). Smaller quantities come from Italy, Greece and Turkey as well.

Roasted & Salted, as well as dry in-shell pistachios are very much liked and consumed as a snack. The kernels, with or without their thin skin are mainly used in the bakery and confectionary industry. Green kernels are used in meat and sausage industry, as well as ice cream production.