The Truth behind How Some Suppliers Lower Their Pistachio Prices
Pistachios have always been one of the luxury foods around the world. They are all delicious, but you should care for their quality too.
When it comes to food, we are always looking for the cheaper. When we can’t tell the difference between two similar products, the first thing we check out to decide which one to buy is the price tag. But sometimes the low price isn’t a good factor for choosing.
People tend to buy pistachios with the shell on, because they are cheaper. But we should keep in mind that with purchasing in shell pistachios, we are actually buying pistachio kernels and their shells. So, it is better to get more kernels from those in shell pistachios. How much money do you save shelling your own pistachios?
There are some quality factors that you can use to choose the high-quality pistachio, one of them is kernel to in-shell ratio. Which shows the proportion of the pistachios you are about to buy, or the number of useful kernels. So, pistachios with a higher kernel to in-shell ratio are thriftier.
Which pistachios have bigger kernels?
Botanically speaking, pistachios are not nuts but drupes — like cherries and peaches. A fleshy outer hull surrounds the kernel and shell, and the fruit is ripe when the hull quickly distributes from the shell. Generally, processing the pistachios involves sorting to remove pistachios with unopened shells, drying, and electronic or manual sorting to remove blemished pistachios or those infected with aflatoxin, a mold metabolite.
Once ripe, pistachio kernels get on their biggest level of size and they naturally crack open, making it easy to shell them in a low-temperature process. This type of pistachios is called “naturally open pistachios,” which usually has up to 55% kernel to shell ratio.
Some pistachio growers or processors use machines to artificially open the pistachio shells while they are not fully ripe. They are called “Mechanically opened pistachios” which often have less kernel to in-shell ratio and smaller kernels compared to naturally open ones.
Why are some pistachios cheaper?
Many pistachio producers, mix the naturally opened pistachios with the mechanically opened and closed shell pistachios and sale them as naturally open pistachios! This is the only way they can lower the price of pistachios. You will actually pay for more shells than kernels. But don’t worry, there is a way to find out:
How to find out the quality of pistachios?
You can use this method to make sure you are purchasing the real naturally opened pistachios not the mixed one.
First, you can find out by their appearances:
- Naturally open pistachios are ripe pistachios that have split naturally from the tip, with blonde to tan shells and smooth edges. These pistachios have opened naturally, so they don’t have any signs of extra pressure or bruises. Naturally opened pistachios have a big kernel; So that if you press it between your two fingers, its edges will not collide.
Another way is to pick up a handful of pistachios and shake them next to your ears. If it produces a lot of sound it indicates that they are mechanically opened, because they have smaller kernels, if it produces less sound, they are naturally opened pistachios.
- Mechanically open pistachios are closed-shell pistachios that have been mechanically opened to look like the naturally open pistachios but usually have asymmetric and sharp edges or are broken from the waist or bottom. Whereas naturally opened pistachios split from the top as they ripe and have smooth edges.
Mechanically opened pistachios are produced by different methods such as:
They break the closed-shell pistachios mechanically and soak them in water for 12-24 hours; During this process the pistachio kernels expands and opens the shell. They then dry the pistachios, making the kernels return to their normal size, but the shells stay the same and won’t shrink back.
This process loosens the thin inner peel that is attached to the kernels and decreases its stamina. So, if you rotate a pistachio between your fingers and it peels off easily, it shows that the pistachio is probably mechanically opened and will peel off if you try to toast them.
Next method is by an easy experiment:
Get 100 grams of the pistachios, crack them open and split the shells and kernels to two groups.
Measure the weight of each group separately, and check the results, If the kernels were heavier than shells (52 grams or more,) then they are genuinely from naturally open pistachios, but if the kernels were lighter than shells (less than 50 grams,) they are a combination of naturally and mechanically open pistachios.
So, this is it.
Remember this while buying in shell pistachios to save some money with buying more kernels. If you have any other methods for finding out the quality of pistachios, please share with us in the comments below.