The ultimate answer to why pistachios are expensive lies in a combination of a difficult growth process, a long cultivating period, and proficient manpower. Aside from the financial factors, the rich nutritional value also adds to the high price tag.
This article will break down the top 5 reasons behind the expensive price, along with solving common myths of pistachio to help you best utilize its benefits.
5 Reasons Why Pistachios Are So Expensive
In the next section, you will dive into the details of what drives the pistachio hefty price.
Strict Climate Requirements
Pistachios demand specific climate conditions to thrive and provide a good harvest. The climate should have a hot summer and a cool winter. Ideally, the summer has dry and humid weather, with a temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, the cold winter shouldn’t have extreme frost.
These requirements result in most Central Asia countries becoming the main source for growing pistachios. The cost of transporting the packaged produce to supermarkets is no doubt a big investment.
Long Growing Period That Takes Up To A Decade
Once the seed is planted, a female pistachio tree takes an average of 5 years to reach the fruit-bearing stage. However, the quantity is insufficient for harvest at this point. Farmers will need to maintain the growth process for another 2 or 5 years to have enough produce to sell.
From the 10th year onwards, this challenging crop will continue to provide fruits until it reaches the peak production state in the 20th year. Skilled farmers can shorten the period to the 15th year.
The expenses for pistachio orchard maintenance add up over the years with little or no profits, which requires a high price in return.
Low Produce Quantity
Each female tree gives an average of 40 pounds of seeds in the annual harvest season. The production rate can be up to 50 pounds with proper care.
Farmers compensate for the low quantity by planting approximately 120 or 135 trees per acre at a time. Another risk that farmers have to take is 12 to 15% of the orchard are male pistachio trees that only act as pollinators.
Manual Sorting Adds To Why Pistachios Are Expensive
As a labor-intensive crop, pistachio needs to be hand sorted in the harvest season to preserve the best quality. Plus, the process must be done swiftly to ensure the pistachios stay fresh from the trees to the packaging machines.
The farmers have to be knowledgeable of the fruits to identify the good ones quickly and place them in the right group. The demand for skilled workers equals higher pay.
High Expenses For Nurturing The Orchard
Besides harvesting pistachios, farmers also need to ensure the trees stay healthy. Hand watering and trimming keep pistachio trees in the best condition but require more labor.
Not to mention the cost for risk management, such as pest infestation, poor soil quality, and unexpected changes in the weather. Even when the nurturing process went smoothly, the upcoming year’s profits sometimes might be just equal or slightly higher than the previous year.
Is It Okay To Eat Pistachios Every Day?
The answer is an absolute yes! Pistachios offer various health benefits. The category includes supporting weight loss, improving the immune system by providing high antioxidants, and lowering blood pressure.
The only factor to note is to limit the regular pistachio consumption to one ounce per day.
Why Do Pistachios Help You Sleep?
Phenolic is one of the nutrients in pistachio seeds. In short, phenolic preserves tryptophan, a nutrient found in high-protein food like poultry, milk, and fish. Tryptophan improves sleep quality to give you a deeper sleep with longer hours.
Do Pistachio Nuts Open Naturally?
A pistachio fruit includes a hard shell covering the green kernel. In the right growth stages, the shells open naturally, showing a part of the kernel inside. This factor helps you open the fruit easily.
Are Pistachio Shells Good For Anything?
The shells can become most helpful in your garden. One way to make use of the shells is to place them at the bottom of a pot, then pour dirt in and plant your tree. With this method, you can have a budget-friendly material for soil drainage.
Additionally, you can also add the shells to the mulch. Simply soak the shells in water for one night to soften them, then add them to the mix.
Another use for pistachio shells is protecting the plants from snails and slugs. This method requires pushing the hard shells into the ground to create a barrier surrounding the plants’ roots.
Is It OK To Eat Closed Pistachio?
Farmers will discard pistachios with closed shells because they have low quality, but you may find them in the packages from time to time. Although there are no critical side effects, you may still have gut problems such as diarrhea or nausea.
Can Pistachios Go Bad?
Like every other type of fresh produce, pistachios can go bad. The signs of bad pistachios are:
- Mold on the kernel
- Foul smell
- Dried and wrinkled kernel
- Discolored kernel (the natural colors are yellow or green)
- Insects or maggots appearing in the package
If you find any of the signs mentioned above, discard the entire bag immediately. In terms of storing pistachios at home, you can keep them in a plastic or paper bag for around 2 weeks in a dry area at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.
To extend the shelf life, transfer all pistachios to a resealable container such as a jar or a pouch, and store it in the fridge for 3 months. Pistachios can last up to 12 months in the freezer, but the taste may change slightly.
Now that you have solved the mystery of why pistachios don’t come cheap, it’s time to make a smart investment in this healthy fruit.
For starters, prioritize brands with a long-standing history since they have the best pistachios grown by skilled farmers. Then, remember to store the fresh pistachios in a proper pantry or fridge to keep the stock worth its price.