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Today, pistachios remain one of the most popular nuts for people of all ages. Pistachios or Green almonds as they are sometimes called are popular because of their small size, green colour and easy to open shells. Pistachios are grown on trees and have naturally tan shells. The kernels inside the shells are a greenish tan. They get their greenish coloring from chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a natural pigment that gives leaves their green color.
Pistachios are typically sold with the shells partly open and the kernels peeking out, making the task of separating the kernels from their shells easy. The shell actually opens on its own during the growth process. As the pistachio nut grows, it expands until it pops its shell open. Pistachios are an excellent and rich tasting nut. They are available in Large, Medium and small sizes. Hence, one can purchase as per one's need or occasion.
Blanched and chopped pistachios
Blanched pistachios can be chopped using a sharp knife and then cut it into half from the centre. Cut the half portion into another half and remove the seeds from centre. Chop ingredients by cutting them in small pieces approximately ¼ inch in diameter, although the chopped food doesn't need to be exactly the same size. If the recipe calls for the ingredients to be "coarsely chopped," make the pieces slightly larger
Blanched and sliced pistachios
Blanched pistachios can be sliced using a sharp knife and then cut it into half from the centre. Slice by cutting vertically across the cutting board. Slice it thinly or thickly, as desired. It is best used for garnishing Sweet dishes or any vegetable/rice preparation.
To blanch the pistachios, remove the shells, place pistachios in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and drain immediately. Place hot pistachios on a towel, fold the towel over to cover the pistachios, and rub to loosen the skins. Go over the pistachios one by one to separate the kernels from the skins.
Take a sharp knife and then cut it into half from the centre. Cut the half portion into another half and remove the seeds from centre. Chop ingredients by cutting them in small pieces approximately ¼ inch in diameter, although the chopped food doesn't need to be exactly the same size. If the recipe calls for the ingredients to be "coarsely chopped," make the pieces slightly larger.
Pistachios can be crushed partially or finely as desired. It can be done with either using a mortar and pestle or a grinder. This can be a great addition to any sweet or savoury food items.
Slice pistachios, using a sharp knife by cutting vertically across the cutting board. Slice them thinly or thickly as the recipe requirement. It can be sliced raw, roasted or blanched, as per the recipe.
How to Select
Pistachios can be powdered and can be grinded into a blender. It can be powdered finely or thickly, as per one's choice and recipie demands. The chief use of it is to thicken the gravies imparting a rich taste.
Choose nuts that are split open at one end. Unopened shells are an indicator of immaturity. The greener the nutmeat, the better the flavor. Pistachios are available year-round in many forms including raw, roasted, salted, unsalted, shelled and unshelled. For cooking purposes, it is best to choose pistachios that have not been dyed.
The thin, edible papers can be easily removed from the nutmeats by blanching. Shelled pistachios are blanched by covering them with boiling water and letting them stand for two minutes. Drain and cool slightly before slipping the skins off. Culinary Uses
· Pistachios are not just enjoyed as a snack food; they are also used in baking and cooking.
· Their unique texture and coloring makes them a popular addition to salads and appetizers.
· They are also a frequent addition to entrees and desserts.
· To reduce the sodium and fat content of your diet, avoid salted, oil-roasted pistachio nuts.
· Let these nuts form part of a healthy, balanced diet: sprinkle the pistachios on yoghurt, hot or cold cereal, or in cream cheese spreads for sandwiches and crackers. Add chopped pistachios to your favourite bread, pancake, waffle or muffin recipe or snack on them between meals. How to Store
Since the shell splits upon ripening to expose the nutmeat, pistachios have a limited shelf life. Store pistachios in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Unshelled nuts can be stored for 3 months in the refrigerator or up to 1 year in the freezer. Shelled pistachios can be stored in the refrigerator up to 3 months, but are not a good candidate for freezing. Fresh pistachios have a nice crunch - keeping them from absorbing moisture from the air is essential to keeping them fresh. Health Benefits
· Pistachios are rich in potassium (helps regulate the body's fluid balance), phosphorus (helps build bones and teeth) and magnesium (important element in the conversion of the body's energy), and are also a good source of vitamin B6 (aids protein metabolism and absorption) and thiamine (enhances energy and promotes normal appetite).
· These nuts also have a relatively low calorie value when compared to other nuts and are cholesterol free, high in fibre and low in saturated fat.
· These nuts are also a very good source of protein.
· Like most other nuts, pistachios can also cut heart disease risk. The high monounsaturated fat content may actually lower cholesterol levels in the blood.
· Pistachios also contain antioxidants in the form of phytochemicals. These plant nutrients have been associated with a decreased risk for developing chronic diseases, like cancer.
· Pistachios are cholesterol-free and high in monounsaturated fat, The fat in pistachios contains no cholesterol or monounsaturated fat, which means that they, along with other nuts, will help protect you from heart attacks. The copper, magnesium, and B vitamins in pistachios all strengthen your immune system, making your body fit
· Eating pistachios may reduce the body's response to the everyday stresses of life.