How Are Pistachios Processed?


Pistachios are green nuts that grow on trees and are commonly eaten whole as a snack or in ice creams and other desserts. They are primarily grown in dry areas such as Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and a few U.S. states including California, New Mexico and Arizona. The nuts are usually sold in their shells, which are partly open. This happens during the growth process.

Growing and Harvesting

  • Pistachios are grown on trees. The nuts take about seven years to mature after the tree is planted. When the pistachios are ripe, harvesters use machines to shake the trees and allow the nuts to fall to the ground. They are then gathered, either by hand or by machines.

Washing and Drying

  • Within 24 hours of being harvested, machines remove the outer hull from the pistachio, and the nuts are washed and sorted according to size, quality, appearance and whether the shell is open. The pistachios are dried in hot air to reduce humidity and decrease the water level, which can make them deteriorate faster.

Preparing Pistachios

  • Pistachios are often eaten raw, but they also can be roasted or salted prior to distribution. Some commercial pistachios are dyed red or green to improve their appearance. This is done to help disguise blemishes and make the nuts appear more attractive.

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  • Photo Credit pistachios image by Elke Dennis from
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