Tag Archives: Pistachios

More Food Porn: Pistachio Gelato on a Brioche

I’ve been in Palermo for only a day and a half, and one thing is readily apparent. The city is a awash in contrasts. And far too many to list here on a brief Internet connection.

So, whilst I wait for a locations that have a better connection to the Web, I leave you with this bit of temptation – Pistachio Gelato. I promise a full report of what is going on in the not too distant future.

We get letters – v. 4 Pistachio Dyes

Again, not so much a letter as a comment in posts.

Amy wrote:

Ever seen fresh pistachios? Me neither, but they seem to be popular down under. Pinkcocoa Tabetai, a blog from Australia, has a picture of them: http://tabetai.blogspot.com/2005/03/pyrmont-growers-market-march.html

And guess what? They’re kind of red on the outside of the hulls. Maybe they’re dyed red not only to cover blemishes but to mimic the natural colour of the hull?

Another source shows that both the outer hulls and inner skins are tinged various shades of pink and purple:

Alas, sometimes when doing research, I miss certain facts or gloss over others. Last night, Amy called me on it.

In my post a few weeks back about pistachios, I said “So when it comes to pistachios, remember this: They are almost never red, and are only slightly green.”

But Amy has a point when she writes, “Maybe they’re dyed red not only to cover blemishes but to mimic the natural colour of the hull?”

Certainly a possibility, and I had thought about that. But I’ve checked and re-checked my sources. It turns out that the red-dye coloring was an American invention, because we tend to like our food to look as unnatural as possible (See various Kraft food products for more proof of that theory). When it comes to the history of dying pistachios, it seems that the “covering blemishes” and “making the nuts stand out” theories are most often cited. I couldn’t find any stating that they were dyed that way to mimic the color of the hull.

I actually like Amy’s theory better because it presumes that pistachio vendors have some sort of aesthete, but I think this falls under what I will call “Kate’s Law of American Food Companies”. This law states that one should never under-estimate the unnatural things that American food companies will do to natural foods.

Thanks for the comment!

Public Domain Image courtesy of Wikipedia. Wikipedia: for all of your Public Domain Needs.

Basic Tips on Pistachios

For reference only. Because if you’re really interested in the deep, dark trivialities surrounding pistachios, then you need to get out more.

  • - 1 lb of pistachios in their shell is equivalent to 2 cups of unshelled pistachios.
  • - 1 lb of shelled pistachios is equivalent to 3 1/2 to 4 cups of nuts.
  • - Pistachios in their shelled that are unopened are immature and ‘unripe’. Use at your own risk.
  • - Pistachios stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator have a shelf life of one year; in the freezer, they have a shelf life of two years.
  • - To restore pistachios that have lost their crispness toast the nutmeats at 200° F for 10 to 15 minutes

How to blanch pistachios: Drop shelled nuts into boiling water, remove from heat and let them soak for about one minute. Drain and rub the pistachios with a clean kitchen towel. To dry, spread on a large baking sheet in an oven preheated to 300 degrees F. for 10 to 15 minutes

How to toast pistachios: Spread the shelled nuts in one layer on a baking sheet. Bake in an oven preheated to 400 degrees F. for four to five minutes watching carefully that they do not burn. Remove and let cool, then rub off the skins.

Okay… did I miss anything?

Pistachio Ice Cream

pistachio ice cream

I think it’s readily apparent that I am a citizen of the Western World. When given pistachios, the first thing I do with them is put them into desserts. Had I been raised in India or other areas of Central Asia, I’d be putting the nuts into rice, or adding to meat dishes.

But alas, I’m cursed to suffer the fates of homemade ice cream. You can sympathize with that, right?

So I made pistachio ice cream. Please note the light green coloration (if you can…it’s admittedly not the best of pictures). Please also note that the green coloration is no where the bright green color often seen in commercial pistachio ice cream. After making pistachio pudding and ice cream, I have come to the conclusion that the massive political corporate machine that is the green food coloring industry fully has the pudding and ice cream companies in their pocket.

Okay, maybe not. Enjoy this recipe. It’ll blow any commercial pistachio ice cream off the shelf.

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 Tablespoons pistachio paste
  • 3/4 cups shelled pistachios

In a mixing bowl, combine cream and half & half. Mix in sugar and cardamom until sugar is incorporated into cream mixture. Add pistachio paste, and whisk slowly until paste is fully dissolved. Pour in pistachio nuts and combine. Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes to an hour.

Pour pistachio cream mixture into ice cream machine and run until ice cream is thickened (this will differ from machine to machine). For soft serve, serve immediately. For hardened ice cream, pour into a plastic container and freeze for four hours.

Makes 1 quart

Quiz Time! Jello Pistachio Pudding

Quick quiz for you here…Which nut is most prevelant in Jell-o Pistachio pudding mix?


Pistachio Pudding

Finding this recipe was damn difficult. I’m not complaining, but I wonder about a culture in which a recipe for Pistachio pudding includes the line “Take a package of instant pudding mix…”

But from the results, I can see why people pick the instant. The color from the pistachios leaves the pudding looking as if it was based of a vegetable rather than an exotic nut. The taste however, was worth it.

  • 1 ounce pistachio paste
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachio nuts

Pour milk into a 2 qt sauce pan and place over medium heat. Whisk in the pistachio paste and stir until the heat dissolves the paste into the milk.

Combine your dry ingedients (sugar, cornstarch, salt) in a seperate bowl. Slowly whisk into milk immediately after pistachio paste has dissolved. Stir constantly, until mixture thickens and begins to boil.

In yet another bowl, scramble the two egg yolks together. Then temper the pudding, by bringing 1/2 cup of the thickened pudding and combine it the egg yolks. Once combined, immediately pour egg mixture back into the pudding that’s in the sauce pan. Allow to boil for 1 minute, whisking all the while. After the one minute, remove from the heat.

Add the butter, vanilla and chipped pistachios. Mix thoroughly. Pour into dessert cups and chill for at least 2 hours.

NOTE: This is homemade pudding, so expect to get the dreaded (or undreaded, if that’s your thing) “pudding skin”. This skin cannot hurt you. Simply stir into the rest of the non-skinned pudding.

Serves 4

Pistachio Paste

This is the pistachio version of almond paste. If you want your paste to not be green, soak the pistachios overnight, and then remove the skins with a tea towel. If you leave the skins on, you end up with a product whose color can best be termed “unfortunate”. On the other hand, if you are using pistachio paste in a recipe and want the end product to be green, you might want to leave the skins on.

  • 1/3 cup pistachios
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-4 Tablespoons water

Grind the pistachios in a food processor for 1-2 minutes, until it’s a near fine powder. Add the sugar and incorporate into the nuts.

This step is critical. Add water to mixture in the processor, one tablespoon at a time, until the paste has the consistency of marzipan. You want to err on the side of too little water rather than too much. The paste should not look liquidy, and should be easily held and shaped when in your hand.