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Nov 8, 2006 11:04 PM

Pistachio questions

I have a lot of roasted, salted pistachios. Great snacks, but can I use them in cakes, candy, ice cream, veggie pates, risotto, all the recipes I see? I have never seen raw pistachios--are they poison, like raw cashews?
Also, is there any possible use for the hard shells? Compost? Kindling?

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  1. Yes, you can use pistachios in baking and for other recipes.

    They are not poisonous raw. We get a few at Farmer's Market and Middle Eastern markets that are fresh, not dried, with a soft shell and soft nut with a very delicate flavor.

    Hm. Hard shells would take forever to break down in compost but would aerate the soil even if they don't break down - but I wouldn't use salted ones for compost because the salts would burn your plants. You could grind them very fine and make a nice facial/skin scrub if you included some soapy or oily ingredients. Sounds like too much trouble, frankly.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Snackish

      Thank you, Snackish-- (Too much trouble for beauty? Never!)
      You say the raw fresh nuts have a delicate flavor--is that what I should use for cakes and ice cream? I'm confused--the recipes just say "pistachios"--are the raw and roasted interchangeable for cooking?

    2. I like usinf roasted salted pistachios in baked-goods, especially sweet baked-goods because the salty sweet contrast is so nice. Chocolates and brittle with salted pistachios can be great, as well as a crushed pistachio tart crust. When using them in savory dishes, I would just pay attention to how much additional salt used in the dish, since pistachios can be pretty salty. You can also rinse them and then dry them in the oven to remove some of the salt, which I have done with other nuts and it works fine.

      1. Pistachios make really pretty biscotti paired with cried cranberries. Red and green for Christmas, you know.

        Roasted beets, with chopped pistachios are good. I got some pistachio oil in France and it makes a really interesting vinaigrette for the salad.

        1. The fresh are very rare and a delicacy to be enjoyed all on their own. Use the roasted ones for cooking.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Snackish

            About three weeks ago I purchased my first batch of fresh pistachios from a small, local Middle Eastern Market in Thousand Oaks. At that time the owner told me that the availability of the fresh batch was about to end (I am guessing until next year at about or just before Halloween -- unless there are two harvests????).

            As described above by Snackish, they are rather bland because they are not processed with salt. They do, however, really taste like an undisguised pistachio. Sometimes, we are so used to the processed taste that we never get to experience what the actual naked food tastes like. Perhaps this is analogous to a potato chip v. a potato.

            I will look for them again next year, but one handful will suffice; eating them fresh is a novelty, but because they are so bland I would not want to use them in cooking.

            1. re: liu

              The last thing the fresh pistachios I have had can be described as is bland. Like all foods fresh pistachios need to be fresh (i.e. not hanging around for a couple of weeks waiting for shipping etc). Maybe the ones you have had were from a less good tree/orchard/area. (The ones I've had were admittedly picked 1-2 days before eating and were grown around Mount Etna in Sicily.)

              All that said, I'm extremely jealous as I've never been able to find fresh ones in London.

              As for composting the shells, I did this three years ago, the damn things look much the same as the first day they were put in the compo bin!

          2. Oh, Oh! Another addition for the use of roasted salted pistachios - tonight I went out and had a fantastic chicken liver mousse with fig jam and finely crushed roasted, salted pistachios! The salt of the pistachios combined with the deep sweetness of the fig jam cut through the richness of the mousse. I wish I had more right now...
            Also, a kofta-like lamb or beef meatball crusted with pistachios could be pretty damn good. I will experiment and report.