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Pistachio Nuts | Soaking and Drying

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Did you know that pistachios are not a nut? The fruit is a drupe, containing an elongated seed, which is the edible portion. More to come on that below…

Are they Raw?

This is a great question and one that I have a difficult time nailing down. It is my guess that 95% of us who are enjoying pistachios are eating heat-treated pistachios.  Fresh ones are very rare, come with a soft shell and soft nut with a very delicate flavor. I for one have never seen a pistachio in this form.

Time to “branch out” our knowledge base…

I absolutely LOVE learning how things grow and are harvested. The pistachio is a broad, bushy, deciduous tree that grows slowly to a height and spread of 25 to 30 feet, with one or several trunks. The reddish, wrinkled fruits are born in heavy clusters somewhat like grapes.

 

Although known as a nut, the fruit of the pistachio is botanically a drupe, the edible portion of which is the seed. The oblong kernel is about 1 inch in length and 1/2 inch in diameter and protected by a thin, ivory-colored, bony shell.  The pistachio is unique in the nut trade due to its semi-split shell which enables the processor to roast and salt the kernel without removing the shell.

 

My husband loves pistachios.  It is common to find him with a bowl of them in his lap, unconsciously cracking and popping them into his mouth while he watches this week’s favorite TV show.  I bet he doesn’t stop and examine all the colors that can be found in a pistachio… have you?

 

The green, yellow, and purplish-red colors found in the kernel and skins signify antioxidants and polyphenols.  The yellow and green color represents the beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and chlorophyll. Antioxidants are found in their purplish-red color as anthocyanins (cancer-fighting), polyphenols (help eliminate free radicals in the body), and catechins, which are slightly yellow or white. So next time you are crack’n and popping pistachios into your mouth, stop and admire their “healthy beauty.”

the-importance-of-soaking1

Why must we go through all this trouble? I find soaking nuts a very important step when it comes to my digestion. When nuts/seeds are soaked and/or sprouted in water, the germination process begins, in which the active and readily available amounts of enzymes, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and essential fatty acids begin to be activated. 
Nuts and seeds contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which make it quite hard on the stomach and digestion. This simple process can make all the difference in how you feel after consuming them and how your body assimilates them. To read more about the importance of why our bodies benefit from soaking nuts and seeds, click (here).

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups raw pistachios, shelled
  • 1 Tbsp Himalayan pink salt
  • 6 cups water

Preparation:

Soaking:

  1. Place the pistachios and salt in a large glass or stainless steel bowl along with 6 cups of water.
  2. Leave them on the counter to soak for 4-8 hours.
    • Loosely cover with a clean cloth, this allows the contents of the bowl to breathe.
    • If you think that it will be longer than 8 hours before you can get to them, place the bowl in the fridge, making sure to change the water every so often.
  3. After they are done soaking, drain and rinse them in a colander.
Dehydrator method:
  1. Spread the pistachios on the mesh sheet that comes with the dehydrator.
    • Keep them in a single layer and dry them at 115 degrees (F) until they are thoroughly dry and crisp.  Make sure they are completely dry.  If not, they could mold, plus they won’t have that crunchy, yummy texture you expect from nuts and seeds.
    • The dry time will vary due to the machine you own, the type of climate you live in, and how full your dehydrator is when drying them.
    • Expect anywhere from 12 + hours.
  2. Allow them to cool to room temperature before storing.
  3. Store in airtight containers such as mason jars.
    • Use within a month – store in the pantry.
    • Use within 3-6 months – store in the fridge
    • Use within 6-12 months – store in the freezer.

Oven method: (no longer raw)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. Spread the pistachios on an ungreased cookie sheet in a single layer.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
    • Don’t leave them unattended, due to their high oil content, they will continue to roast after you remove them from the oven.
    • When toasted correctly they taste toasted, not bitter or burnt.
    • Good idea to stir them around a bit throughout the process.
  4. Cool for about 1 hour.   Make sure that they are cool before storing.
  5. Note ~ You can also attempt to dry the pistachios in the oven and keep them raw but this is tricky.  You will need to set the oven on the lowest setting, keep the door ajar and hang a thermometer in the oven to watch the temperature.  Nothing is impossible.  With this method… good luck and do your best.

Do soaked nuts and seeds have to be dehydrated?

If you are unable to dry the nuts or seeds, it is best to only soak an amount that you can be sure will used within two or three days. As with any live food, mold tends to set in within days if you’re not careful. They will need to be stored in water, sealed tight, and placed in the fridge.  It is important to rinse them twice a day with fresh water.

6 thoughts on “Pistachio Nuts | Soaking and Drying

  1. Celia says:

    Do we shell them before soaking ? I’ve read higher heat than 150 degrees reduces the healthy properties in the nuts or seeds. So I’m trying the oven. My old oven goes as low as 115 degrees. I have not left the door open before – do I need to do this? What benefit does it offer? Thank you so much!

    • amie-sue says:

      Yes Celia… all nuts and seeds need to be shelled before soaking. That’s awesome that your oven goes down to 115 degrees… not many do. You don’t need to crack the door, that is just for ovens that go down that low, it helps to reduce the oven temp that way. Enjoy and have a blessed evening, amie sue

      • Celia says:

        Hi Amie-Sue, You are so lovely to reply! I did shell the raw pistachios – soaked them in salt brine for 8 hours. Instead of drying, I read about an alternate choice of keeping them in water (changed 2 x per day – in fridge) good for 2 to 3 days. (I soaked a small amount for about 3 – 4 servings as a trial) They are WONDERFUL, full of pistachio taste!, so rich and amazing.

        Thank you so much for replying, I’ll try drying the next batch. Yes, my oven is literally from 1965! My grandparents original home and oven! It goes nearly as low as 100 degrees and is easily kept below 150 :-) Never knew I’d be glad about that until I recently discovered “Soaking” :-) I even soak flour (using so little & rarely, but soaked! :-) and oats, buckwheat … everything grain, seeds or nuts. It makes perfect sense!!

        The Old World knew best about this! Our modern overly processed, fast, mass producing food industry lost that wisdom for the most part. Makes one wonder if gluten would be such an issue if we hadn’t.
        Best wishes, Celia.

        • amie-sue says:

          That is so wonderful Celia. You have a true relic on your hands and I love the memories attached to it… ohhhh the history! You are blessed. These days everything is made so cheaply and without character. Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your history with me. I really enjoyed reading about it.

          And who knew that pistachios could be so rich in flavor huh?! Many kitchen blessings and have a wonderful weekend. amie sue

  2. Catherine Simonelli says:

    Thank you so much for this valuable information!
    I intend to use mine for chocolate making purposes as well as consuming them myself 🍴
    Curious, though ..must I add salt to the water? I ask bc I plan to sprinkle it on the finished chocolates.
    Thanks, again, in advance 😁

    • amie-sue says:

      Hello Catherine,

      You are so welcome. It’s my pride and joy.

      The salt helps to draw out the phytic acid, etc. It really doesn’t affect the end taste of the nuts/seeds if you use the ratio indicated. Good luck with your chocolate making! amie sue

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