National Pistachio Day – February 26 – History Fun Facts and Recipes

Who doesn’t love to crack open pistachios and snack on them?  February 26 is the day to do this with abandon – it’s National Pistachio Day!

National Pistachio Day - February 26

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What is a pistachio?

Pistachios are a member of the cashew family. The nuts grow on a small tree.  They are native to Central Asia and the Middle East.Pistachio Tree branch

The tree produces seeds which are what we know as the pistachio nut, a common snack food.

Pistachios grow in grape-like clusters surrounded by a fleshy hull. When the hulls ripen, the pistachio kernel grows inside until the shell splits open by itself in most cases.

The kernels of pistachios are eaten whole. They can be unsalted or salted and can be natural or roasted.  Pistachios are used in all kinds of recipes from sweets to main courses.

Why are pistachios green?

Pistachios are thought of as the “colorful” nut, owing their green and purple colors. The colors come from the natural plant pigment in the nut called chlorophyll.  

This same pigment is found in fruits and vegetables such as cucumbers, celery and green peas.

Fun Facts about Pistachios

Brush up on your knowledge of pistachios with these fun facts.Pistachio nuts

  • Over half of the world’s production of pistachios comes from Iran.
  • Archaeological finds show that pistachio seeds were a common food as early as 6750 BC.
  • During the 19th century, pistachios were cultivated commercially in parts of the English speaking world. 
  • The pistachio tree was introduced to California as a garden tree in 1854. 
  • Pistachio trees are desert plants. They like a sandy soil.
  • The tree can survive to about 14 degrees F in winter and up to 118 degrees F in summer.
  • Pistachios are good for us. They contain more than 30 different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
  • One serving of pistachios has as much protein as an egg.
  • The Chinese and those in the Middle East call pistachios happy nuts or smiling nuts because the shell is open and looks like the nut is smiling.
  • Many nutritionists believe that eating 1.5 ounces per day of pistachios or other heart healthy nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • California is the second leading producer of pistachios after the Middle East.
  • Pistachios are often given as a gift during the Chinese New Year. It is a symbol of happiness, health and good fortune.  (Fine out about other lucky New Year’s foods here.)
  • Add pistachio shells to garden soils that need acid. The shells will also serve as a barrier against slugs and snails.

How to observe National Pistachio Day

There are lots of ways to celebrate pistachio day.  How about one of these creative ideas?


  • Fill up a bowl and snack on some pistachio nuts.
  • Wear a Pistachio T-Shirt while snacking.
  • Try one of the recipes below that make use of pistachios.
  • Treat yourself to a pistachio nut opener to make them even easier to open.
  • Spend some time reading to your kids with a few chapters from the Knotty Pine Mysteries: Mr. Beaverton and the Pistachio Fiasco.
  • Give the gift of good health to a friend with a wholesome bag of pistachio nuts.
  • Use the hashtag #NationalPistachioDay or #pistachioday to spread the word about the day on social media. Here is a pin to get you started:
It's National Pistachio Day. Grab and bowl and get cracking! #NationalPistachioDay  #pistachioday  Click To Tweet

What are National Days?

National days of the year are a fun way to celebrate odd and unusual foods, animals and items that you come into contact with.  Be sure to check out my National Day’s Guide for more fun days to celebrate.Find out about National Days at Always the Holidays

There are close to 2000 National Days in the year and over 150 of them are celebrated in February. Be sure to check out this post to discover more about the National Days in February, as well as the February Printable Calendar of National Days.

Be sure to also check out these other foodie National Days this Month:

10 Recipes for Pistachio Day

One of the best ways to celebrate National Pistachio Day is by using the nuts in recipes. Here are a few to get you started.Tasty Pistachio Recipes for National Pistachio Day

Pin this post for National Pistachio Day for later

Would you like a reminder of this post for National Pistachio Day?  Just pin this image to one of your trivia boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.National Pistachio Day Recipes

And be sure to try these Pistachio Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies. They are one of my favorite ways to celebrate National Pistachio Day.

Yield: 18 cookies

Pistachio Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies

Pistachio Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups raw unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped and divided
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and Kosher salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until smooth.
  4. Add 1/2 cup of the pistachios and the vanilla extract.
  5. Beat in the flour mixture until everything is just combined.
  6. Roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick and cut into circles with a cookie cutter.
  7. Place on the baking sheet and bake until golden brown - about 15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely.
  8. Place the chocolate pieces in a double boiler over simmering water and stir until the chocolate is smooth and melted.
  9. Place the rest of the pistachios in a bowl and dip one end of each cookie into the melted chocolate and then into the pistachios.
  10. Repeat until done and allow to harden.
  11. Store the cookies in an air tight container. for up to a week.

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