Today is National Pistacio Day and someone sent me two bags of nuts to help commemorate.
First a little pistachio education.
During the 1880s, imported pistachios were popular in the USA, especially with Middle Eastern immigrants. The pistachio received further distribution through vending machines installed in underground train stations, bars, restaurants and other common locations. “A dozen for a nickel” soon developed into a familiar slogan.
It was recognized that California’s Central Valley – due to its fertile soil, hot, dry climate and moderately cold winters – offered the ideal growing conditions for the nut.
In 1929, American botanist William E. Whitehouse journeyed to Persia (modern day Iran) to collect pistachios. This pursuit came to a close in 1930, when he returned to the USA with a collection of approximately 20 pounds (10 kilograms) of individually selected nuts.
Pistachios are wind pollinated, as opposed to bee pollinated. Just one male tree is required to pollinate up to 30 female trees.
Pistachio trees take seven to 10 years to mature
From its first commercial crop in 1976 of 1.5 million pounds (680 tons) to the record 2007 crop of over 415 million pounds (188,241 metric tons), success has built upon success.
This increase in total crop has been mirrored by increasing production per acre, from 1,468 pounds per acre in 1982 to over 3,615 pounds per acre in 2007.
California comprises 98.5% of the total with over 250,000 acres planted throughout 22 counties.
There are 850 producers in the United States and the annual “farm gate value”* of pistachios represents more than $1.16 billion to the California economy
For more info visit American Pistachio Growers- http://americanpistachios.org/
Now for the fun part. I perused Pinterest for HOURS looking at all things pistachio. Unfortunately most of the recipes on there used pistachio flavored pudding instead of real honest to goodness pistacios. I thought of maybe making some Baklava (I do live amongst the second largest Armenian poplulation outside of Armenia), but it is way more trouble than I have time.
I decided to go with something easy, pistachio brittle. Or so I thought.
Here is the original recipe from Epicurious:
- vegetable oil cooking spray
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup dry-roasted shelled unsalted pistachios
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; lightly coat paper with vegetable oil cooking spray. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 1 cup sugar, 1/4 cup light corn syrup, 1/4 cup water and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter to a simmer; cook, stirring often, until mixture is a medium caramel color, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (mixture will foam), 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract and 1 cup dry-roasted shelled unsalted pistachios. Pour onto baking sheet; spread into an even layer. Cool completely. Break into 24 pieces
Sounds easy right? Not so much.
On the good side, my floor is now clean. Well, at least the patch that everything spilled on to when my arthritis kicked in and my hand siezed up and I dropped the entire cookie sheet and everything splattered everywhere.
Maybe next time.