Whatever Happened to Red Pistachios?

Posted on : April 11th, 2019

American-Grown Pistachios

Do you remember red pistachios? I do! In fact, when I was a child pistachios were considered a treat because they were expensive, almost always imported, and they all had shells that were dyed red.

Now, I don’t miss the red color—it always distressed me. But I’ve always wondered: why were they dyed red and why are they rarely sold like that today?

The answer goes back to when most pistachios came from the Middle East. Supposedly a Syrian importer named Zaloom chose to do this to stand out from his competitors. But there’s more to the story than that. The idea caught on because the shells of most pistachios in those days were often mottled and discolored from sitting on the ground while being dried. The red dye covered the discoloration and made them look more appealing.

Roasted Salted Pistachios

But everything changed in the 1980s after an embargo on Iranian pistachios was enforced and further economic sanctions continued for years afterwards. American producers rushed to fill the demand for the American market, planting as many trees as they could. They also used mechanical processes instead of traditional methods to harvest and dry the nuts. They never have to touch the ground and, therefore, rarely become discolored. The need and expense of dying the nuts is no longer necessary. It’s also no longer in vogue to use food dye—most of us choose to avoid it.

Today, 99% of all pistachios sold in the United States are grown right here in California. And the United States is the second largest pistachio producing country in the world, Iran still being first.

At Maisie Jane’s we are proud to offer pistachios grown by our friends John McGinnis and his family. They farm 90 acres right here in northern California in a little town named Artois, about halfway between Willows and Orland. We carry roasted and salted natural pistachios and organic ones, in more than one size. We also have a tasty Organic Chocolate Toffee Pistachio confection that is quite a treat!

Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine Products, Inc. was founded on strong beliefs and passion for offering unique, flavorful, top-quality, nut products. We strongly believe in earth-friendly practices that start on our family owned and operated orchards. We use Organic farming practices and continue in the process by using all-natural ingredients with no preservatives or GMOs. We believe in honest, friendly and helpful customer relations at all levels. We take pride in every task, every day, with every person.