National Pistachio Day

Pistachio tree from Bronte insieme
Pistachio tree from Bronte Insieme

Wednesday, February 26th is National Pistachio Day here in the States, and although we love pistachios in any way, shape and form, there is no place on earth that produces pistachios superior to those from Bronte, in Sicily.

Sicily is the only place in Italy where pistachios grow, and they are a legacy of the Arabs who brought them to the island. Bronte, a town located slightly northwest of Mt. Etna, is justifiably famous for the quality of its pistachios.

Although the trees bear fruit every year, the farmers of Bronte noticed that if allowed to skip a year of harvesting, the nuts produced would be of higher volume and greater quality, so every other y

Bronte Pistachios - just picked (center), shelled (right) and peeled (left). from Bronte inseieme.
Bronte Pistachios – just picked (center), shelled (right) and peeled (left). from Bronte Inseieme.

ear the buds are pruned to prevent the development of pistachios.  Because of the terrain, they are impossible to harvest by machine, and so must be hand harvested. The combination of volcanic soil rich in minerals, warm Sicilian sun and mountain air account for what many argue is the best quality pistachio in the world.

The first thing you will notice is that unlike other pistachios, those from Bronte are a particularly bright shade of green. The fruit itself is smaller and a bit more tapered than other varieties. The small kernel is protected by a purple velvety peel, that can be removed if desired, but is completely edible.

Bronte pistachios are an essential ingredient in many typical Sicilian desserts. Torrone, cassata cake, gelato, and cannoli can all be enhanced by the addition of pistachios from Bronte.  Additionally they are used in salumi, especially mortadella, and can be made into a verdant green pesto for pasta, along with myriad other uses.

So eat up! Almost 90% of the fat found in pistachios is the healthy mono and polyunsaturated fat. One serving of pistachios (a generous 49 nuts on average) has as much potassium as an orange, and as much dietary fiber as ½ cup of cooked broccoli.  Pistachios, no matter where they come from are a delicious and nutritious treat.