P. vera goes by many common names, such as Common Pistache, Pistachio Nut, Terebinth Nut or Green Almond. Although it has been associated with traditional medicinal uses in China and India, it is most widely bought and sold for use in food (Khare 2007). The seeds yield 40% non- drying oil but the oil is not commercially produced because the seed already has such a high commercial value on its own (Facciola 1990). Additionally, male trees yield a small amount of high quality resin that is used as an ingredient in paints and lacquers (Lim 2012; Komarov 2000).
Native to the Eastern Mediterranean, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian countries, P. vera is cultivated agriculturally in the Near East, Mediterranean Europe, California and North India, but is still gathered from wild trees by locals in some regions such as by tribes men of the Balcochistan Province of Pakistan (Khare 2007; Ciesla 2002). Iran, Turkey, Syria and the United States produce 90 % of the world’s pistachios and world production is increasing (Ciesla 2002).
Pistachio nuts (also known as kernels) are typically eaten whole, and may be eaten fresh or roasted, with salt, no seasoning, or as part of a dessert. For instance, in the Midwestern United States they are often eaten fresh, in salads, as part of pistachio pudding, with cool whip, and canned fruit, or with cottage cheese and marshmallow, and they are sometimes mixed with fruits to create a strong marmalade. The nuts of P. vera are commonly used in ice cream, sweets, meat dishes, pies, cakes and confections like baklava but are also used in salty foods, like the Italian cold cut sausage mortadella. In Greece, the entire unripe nut is used to prepare traditional “spoon sweets”—sweets served to guests in teaspoonfuls because they are too sweet to be served in larger portions. Specifically in Chios, Greece, the flesh surrounding the nut is cooked and preserved in syrup and offered to guests (Lim 2012).
In traditional Indian medicine, the kernel is used for cardiac and brain tonics and as a sedative while the flowers are prescribed for leucorrhoea. The husk is also taken against dysentery and the in the event of stomatitis and tonsillitis for which the husk is meant to act as an astringent (Khare 2012). In China it is used to treat abdominal ailments, abscesses, amenorrhea, bruises, chest ailments, circulation, dysentery, rheumatism, sclerosis of the liver and sores from trauma (Lim 2012).
- Khare, CP. 2007. “Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary” (Springer)
- Facciola, Stephen. 1990. “Cornucopia: A Source Book of Edible Plants” (Kampong Publications)
- Komarov, VL. 2000 “Flora of the U.S.S.R” (Amerind Publishing Co.)
- William M. Ciesla for the Forestry and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2002 “Non-Wood Products from Temperate Broad Leaf Trees” part of a series Non-Wood Forest Products 13 (FAO Cooperate Document Repository)
- TK Lim. 2012 “Edible Medicinal and Non-Medicinal Plants, vol. 1, Fruits”
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