Differences between Iranian pistachio and American pistachio - Ratinkhosh
Differences between Iranian pistachios and American pistachios

Differences between Iranian pistachio and American pistachio

Ratinkhosh R&D Team

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Pistachios are one of the oldest nuts around. People have been eating them for more than 9,000 years. Iranians call pistachio the “smiling nut”, and they call it the “happy nut” in china because of its open-mouthed look after cracking the shells. Iran and America are the biggest producers of pistachio, but which one is better? Here are the differences between Iranian pistachios and American pistachio.

Choosing pistachios

If you are purchasing in bulk, look for pistachios whose shells are split or partly split open.  This characteristic shows ripeness. Any pistachio that is not partly open isn’t merely an inconvenience, but an indication that the shell holds an immature nut and should be discarded.

Of course, whether you choose pistachios in the shell or shelled is mostly a matter of convenience. Pistachios keep better in their shells, but they do require cracking before you can consume or use them in cooking.

If you are buying the nuts in their shells, look for ivory-colored, blemish-free, shells that are split open at one end. The nutmeat, or kernel, should be yellow to dark green in color. The greener the kernel, the better the flavor.

You should consider these factors while choosing the best pistachio:

1- Variety

Pistachios are classified according to their origin; their color and size differentiate them. Each origin has its own selections, whose main differences are the size, color, flavor, season of harvesting, and qualities.

Iran: Some of the most common pistachio cultivars in Iran – the main producing country – are Mirhavy, Fandoughi, Momtaz, Ohadi, Sefideh-Momtaz, Imperiale de Damghan, Badami, Kale Ghouchi, Akbari, and many others as female cultivars. As vigorous cultivars, they use the native ones coming from the seed.

Syria: The most important varieties in Syria are Batouri, Achouri, Alemi, and Lazouardi.

Turkey: In Turkey, varieties include Uzun, Kirmizi, Halebí, Abiad miwahi, the Jalalé, Aintaby, and Ayimi.

Turkestan: The most important varieties in Turkestan are Kouchka, Akart-Tachecmé, and Chor-Tchéchimé.

Greece: In Greece, the pistachio nut varieties Lárnaca, Aegina, and Pontikis are produced.

Main pistachio varieties around the world

Main pistachio varieties around the world:


Kerman cultivar provides pistachio nuts of great size and quality. It was selected in Iran and introduced in the U.S.A.

This variety is also cultivated in Spain, where the nuts ripen through the first fortnight of September.


Peter is used as a male cultivar in Kerman. It has good production, and they partially coincide during the flowering season. Selected in California.


Pistachio nuts of average size, long with green color. One of the most common cultivars in Turkey.

“Sepideh- Momtaz” and “Imperiale de Dameghan”

The nut of these pistachio varieties is round, thick and yellowish with excellent quality.

You can find more about pistachio varieties in our other articles.

Main pistachio varieties around the world

2- Kernel to in-shell ratio

Pistachios harvested and dried are traded by weight, while they are in their shells. It would be beneficial if we can estimate, at the time of buying a load of pistachio, the weight of the kernels we may get when this load of pistachio is shelled, without actually shelling the pistachios. Knowing the kernel to in-shell ratio could be a reliable indicator of the quality of the pistachios that are being purchased. Upfront, it would show the proportion of the pistachios you are about to buy, which has useful kernels. So, pistachios with a higher kernel to in-shell ratio are more frugal.

Roastability of pistachios

3- Roastability

Roasting adds complexity to the typical classic taste of pistachios without taking their identity and improves their scent by aromatizing their oil. But a chemical analysis of raw and processed pistachios published in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” reveals an increase of lipid oxidation signs in the roasted and heat-treated nuts compared to the raw ones. Also, results from the heat-treated nuts show an increase of trans fats, and if the pistachio doesn’t have the necessary fat in itself, the nutrition will be all lost. So, the more internal fat the pistachio has, the better nutrition it will keep after roasting.

4- Taste and Flavor

Unsalted pistachio is smooth in texture and ends with a slightly sweet flavor. The pistachio is also encased a tiny edible cover that gives the nut an earthy flavor. When the nut is young and green, it is slightly soft and less sweet, but as it grows, it becomes harder and more pleasing.

5- Tradability

Tradability is defined as a product or service that can be sold in another place distant from where it was produced. Different products have differing levels of tradability: the higher the price of transportation and the lower the shelf life, the less tradable a product is.

Top Pistachio Producing Countries

Top Pistachio Producing Countries

Pistachio is produced in many countries, including Iran, the USA, Turkey, Syria, China, Greece, Italy, and Afghanistan. However, the top global pistachio producers are the US and Iran, which accounted for most of the worldwide production.[1]

The differences between Iranian pistachios and American pistachios?

The English name pistachio is gotten from the Persian name “Pisteh.”  Pistachio nuts are twisted with Iranian culture and are truly present in all aspects of Iranian life. They get a mention in all Iranian stories, literature, beliefs, rituals, and traditions, rituals such as Yalda (The longest night of the year) and Norooz (Iranian New Year) and are even employed in weddings and funerals.

The differences between Iranian pistachios and American pistachios?

The differences between Iranian pistachios and American pistachios?

This delicious nut can be grown in severe weather conditions such as hottest summers and coldest winters. The temperature can vary from -15 degrees to 45 Celsius in summer that’s why desert areas are more suitable for growth.

During the 1880s, imported pistachios were prevalent in the USA, mainly with Middle Eastern immigrants. After many years of experimenting, the concept of the “American pistachio” industry was becoming a reality. American pistachios are very similar to Iranian pistachios but with a small difference in quality and size and definitely in price.

1- Variety

Iran has more diverse varieties in pistachio than the US. There are many different cultivars of Iranian pistachios, such as Fadoughi (40% of pistachio orchards), Kale Ghouchi (20%), Akbari (15%), and Ahmad Aghaei (12%). Each cultivar has its own flavor and shape. It makes sense as the pistachio was originated in Iran.

American pistachio is also from the Kerman cultivar, which is one of the Iranian cultivars but shows better results in Iran’s climate. However, California pistachio growers have relied on a single female (‘Kerman’) and single male (‘Peters’) cultivar.

2- Kernel to in-shell ratio

Iranian pistachios have a higher kernel to in-shell ratio. Meaning that you are buying a higher quantity of the edible meat for the same total amount of pistachios you purchase. The reason is that Iran’s weather is more suitable for growing pistachios, therefore the kernels grow more perfectly.

Iranian Kernel to in-shell ratio

3- Roastability

Iranian pistachios have more capability for roasting. Due to their higher unsaturated oil content, they can be roasted at between 160 to 180°C (hot stream temperature). Excellent roasting with higher temperature brings out the unique flavor of the pistachio, also eliminates any live bacteria from the roasted nut. While American pistachio has less unsaturated oil content and cannot be roasted like this. Obviously lower roasting temperature of around 120°C provided by American suppliers would not achieve the two above advantages.

4- Taste and Flavor

Iranian pistachio has a more unique and rich taste. For a long time, people around the world have shown a preference for the flavor and taste of the Iranian pistachios. Each commercial varieties of Iranian pistachios have their own rich, unique and distinctive flavor. Therefore, Iranian pistachios offer a pleasant mix of exceptional flavors which give the customer choice and variety.

 Iranian pistachio has a more unique and rich taste

5- Tradability

Iranian pistachios have better trading opportunities but…! A lot of buyers, producers, importers, and exporters of Iranian pistachios make for conditions of perfect competition in the market. Therefore, better trading opportunities are available for those engaged in purchasing and selling wholesale Iranian pistachios.  The U.S. pistachio industry successfully lobbied for a 300 percent tariff on Iranian pistachios. Thirty years later, that means that even though Iran can now legally sell the green nut to American retailers, consumers will have to pay three times as much for Iranian pistachios as they do for U.S.-grown ones!


Pistachios are the most delicious, cracking nuts ever. From wherever you buy them, they still are yummy and lovely. But if you’re insisting on finding the best pistachio,  we just gave you a little hint! 😉

You can find out more about pistachios on our other blog posts on A Complete Guide to Pistachio Industry, Everything about Pistachios and Comprehensive Guide on Kal (Unripe, Early Picked, Boza) Pistachios.

You can read Frequently Asked Questions about Pistachios or contact us for any pistachio questions.


[1] https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/top-pistachio-consuming-countries.html

Differences between Iranian pistachio and American pistachio

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