Why Pistachios Are Often Sold In The Shell While Other Nuts Aren't

cluster of pistachios
cluster of pistachios - Aleaimage/Getty Images

When setting out to make creamy pistachio nut butter from scratch, the task of deshelling a large number of nuts may seem daunting. Not every snacker may appreciate the peeling work necessary to eat these buttery, salty nuts, especially more stubborn pieces that require force -- particularly when hunger pangs are fierce. Unlike other nut varieties that can be purchased unshelled, pistachios are often sold in the shell, leaving eaters up to their own devices to open the pieces to enjoy or use in recipes.

Pistachios pack protein, fiber, and potassium, making the nut a beneficial addition to recipes and a health-boosting snack. While raw pistachio kernels are sold in markets, it is more common to find packages of these nuts still in their shell. Unlike other nuts like almonds and cashews that must be deshelled before salted and roasted, matured pistachios split the shells they grow in, leaving an opening exposing the edible piece that awaits. This aspect lands the pistachios firmly in the family of culinary nuts, offering pieces that can be roasted without any deshelling work.

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Nature's Natural Restraint

close up of pistachios
close up of pistachios - 101cats/Getty Images

Hulls, also called mesocarps, encompass the pistachio shell and leave enough space for the nuts to expand and grow. The split in the shell generally happens 30 days before the shells are harvested. With this easy, exposed access to the pieces, pistachio nuts don't need to be fully separated from the shell to be salted and sold. Once pistachios are harvested by machines, the hulls are removed so that the shells are not discolored. The pieces are then washed, dried, and sorted.

Opening pistachio pieces by hand may be an inconvenience to some, others may be grateful to have this natural pause in the eating process to show a bit of restraint when putting down a handful of the nuts. The cracking open of each piece can be a methodic, almost meditative process. Whether you're setting out to make pistachio pudding or top off a freshly made tray of baklava, you may appreciate the handy manual work required to unearth the earthy morsels -- or simply set out to find and purchase pistachio kernels that have been separated from their shells for you.

Read the original article on Tasting Table