Pistachio Nut Butter
There are so many different ways to enjoy pistachios, but I bet you have never tried these green nuts ground into a butter! You can use my Pistachio Butter in the same way you would use almond butter or peanut butter- on apples, sandwiches, in oatmeal, or in baked goods.
Pistachios taste similar to other types of nuts, but they carry a distinctly buttery taste that I love! For my Pistachio Butter I am using about three and a half cups of roasted, salted, shelled pistachios. Feel free to buy unroasted or unsalted pistachios. You can roast pistachios yourself by spreading the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and placing them in a 350-degree F oven for about 5-10 minutes, tossing them occasionally. Nuts can go from perfectly toasted to burnt in a matter of seconds so make sure you are close by and checking. You can also add a teaspoon or so of salt to unsalted nuts. I find this adds important depth to my Pistachio Butter.
Little Known Facts About Pistachios
Pistachios tend to be a little more expensive than other types of nuts, but for good reasons. First, pistachio trees require a very specific climate that exists in only a few areas around the world. Pistachio trees need cool winters and long, hot summers with very little humidity. Geographic locations that fit this bill are California, Turkey, and Iran.
Second, pistachio trees are ‘late bloomers.’ After planting a baby tree it can take six or seven years for the tree to produce fruit (nuts) and up to 20 years for a tree to reach its peak production. Even at peak production, pistachio trees do not produce a high yield. Even further, pistachio trees are “biennial bearing” meaning they only reach full yield every other year. On top of all of these limitations, pistachio nuts require sorting by hand, which dramatically increases labor costs. The Wonderful Company, the world’s biggest distributor of pistachios, is based in the U.S. and works diligently to ensure ethical and sustainable practices during growing, harvesting, and distributing, so you can feel good about your pistachio purchase!
Here are a few other interesting facts about pistachios:
- Pistachios are related to both mangoes and poison ivy.
- One serving of pistachios has about the same amount of protein as an egg.
- In different parts of the world pistachios are known as “happy nuts” or green almonds.
- The U.S. imported most of its pistachios until 1979 when the U.S. placed an embargo on Iranian pistachios in response to the Iran hostage crisis.
- Before the U.S. started growing its own supply of pistachios following the Iran hostage crisis, the green nuts and beige shells were dyed red in order to hide imperfections usually inflicted through importation.
Health Benefits of Pistachios
The United States Food and Drug Administration recognizes that “diets containing one ounce of nuts per day can reduce your risk of heart disease” (1).
Research suggests that pistachios, more than any other single nut type studied, are able to decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure in adults without type 2 diabetes (2). Research also suggests that pistachios added to a carbohydrate-rich meal or as a snack can improve healthy individuals’ blood sugar response and fasting blood glucose in individuals with type 2 diabetes, respectively (3,4,5)
Nut and Seed Butters
I love making nut and seed butters at home because it allows me to control the ingredients. The options are absolutely endless for different combinations of nuts, seeds, and flavorings.
Here are some of my favorite tips for making Pistachio Butter or any type of nut or seed butter:
- Be patient and trust the process! If you stop your food processor or blender too early you will get a dry, crumbly product. It takes at least five minutes in most cases for nuts to release their oils and blend into a smooth texture. Roasted nuts and softer nuts will take less time, whereas raw nuts with less oil will take the longest (e.g., raw almonds).
- If you are opting to buy roasted nuts instead of roasting them yourself, make sure you get a product that says it was “dry roasted.” In some cases, nuts are actually fried in oil instead of roasted.
- Don’t be afraid to try combinations of different nuts, seeds, or nuts and seeds!
- Never add water to your nut butter! Nuts have a lot of oil (which makes the consistency of nut butter so dreamy) and oil and water do not mix.
- If you plan to add a sweetener, I recommend honey. Honey is a great emulsifier, which will reduce the chance of oil and solid separation.
- Without preservatives, it is important to keep your homemade nut butter in the refrigerator. This will keep the oils fresh!
To learn more about how to make nut and seed butters, including some fun flavor combinations, check out my Halloween Apple Teeth post.
- United States Food and Drug Administration. Qualified Health Claims: Letter of Enforcement Discretion – Nuts and Coronary Heart Disease (Docket No 02P-0505). 2003; http://wayback.archive-it.org/7993/20171114183724/https://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/LabelingNutrition/ucm072926.htm.
- Mohammadifard N, Salehi-Abargouei A, Salas-Salvadó J, Guasch-Ferré M, Humphries K, Sarrafzadegan N. The effect of tree nut, peanut, and soy nut consumption on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials The American Journal of Clnical Nutrition. 2015;101(5):966-982.
- Bullo M, Juanola-Falgarona M, Hernandez-Alonso P, Salas-Salvado J. Nutrition attributes and health effects of pistachio nuts. Br J Nutr. 2015;113 Suppl 2:S79-93.
- Kendall CW, Josse AR, Esfahani A, Jenkins DJ. The impact of pistachio intake alone or in combination with high-carbohydrate foods on post-prandial glycemia. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011;65(6):696-702.
- Parham M, Heidari S, Khorramirad A, et al. Effects of pistachio nut supplementation on blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomized crossover trial. Rev Diabet Stud. 2014;11(2):190-196.
- 16 ounce bag ~3 ½ cups of roasted, shelled pistachios
- Note: if using unsalted pistachios add ~1 teaspoon kosher salt to blender
- Optional: 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Place pistachios into a vitamix or other high powered blender. A food processor will work, but the time will be approximately 5 minutes longer. Starting on lowest speed, blend mixture about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Increase speed and blend about 4 to 5 minutes until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Add oil slowly if necessary to add more creaminess.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.