Eight Interesting Historical and Cultural Facts about Pistachios

Thursday, February 23rd, 2023

Pistachios have a long and rich history that dates back thousands of years among many cultures. We love them and suspect you probably do, too. National Pistachio Day is just around the corner, so we thought you might like to learn about them. We hope you enjoy reading about this most interesting nut.

Interesting facts about the history and culture of pistachios:

1. Origin: Pistachios are believed to have originated in the Middle East, specifically the region that is now Syria, Iran and Iraq. They were first cultivated in this region more than 10,000 years ago and have been an important part of local cuisine ever since. You will find them in both savory and sweet dishes such as rice, baklava, halva, mezze platters, and rosewater-pistachio ice cream. In Iran, they are called the “smiling nut”.

2. Ancient History: Pistachios were highly valued in ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. They were often used in medicines and were believed to have various health benefits. They used them as a diuretic to promote urination and reduce fluid retention in the body. They were also often only available to royalty. Legend has it that the Queen of Sheba declared
pistachios were only to be enjoyed by royalty, even decreeing that it was illegal for commoners to grow pistachio trees. We can all agree that was just rude! They say the Queen even took her country’s entire harvest of pistachios for her and her royal court.

3. The Bible: Pistachios are thought to have been one of the foods that Adam brought with him to Earth (Genesis 43:11) and, therefore, grew in the Garden of Eden. Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry a present down to the man, a little balm and a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds.

4. In India: During the coldest winter months, people will binge on pistachios, which they call the “hot nut”. They believe that pistachios quite literally have the ability to warm a person from the inside out.

5. European Introduction: Pistachios were introduced to Europe during the Middle Ages and were initially a luxury item. They were often served at royal banquets and were highly valued for their unique flavor.

6. American Cultivation: Pistachios were introduced to the United States in the mid-1800’s. But it wasn’t until the 1960’s that commercial cultivation began in California. The Schweers, owners of Heart of the Desert, were one of the first to bring the cultivation to New Mexico in the 1970’s. Today, the United States is one of the world’s largest producers of pistachios.

7. Symbolism: In many cultures, pistachios are seen as the symbol of health, happiness, and good luck. They are often given as gifts during holidays and special occasions. In China, they call them the “happy nut”.

8. Culinary Use: Pistachios are used in a wide range of dishes, both sweet and savory. They are commonly used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine, and are featured in dishes such as  baklava, pistachio ice cream, and pistachio crusted meats.

Pistachios have a long and diverse history and continue to be an important cultural and culinary element in many parts of the world. They make great snacks on their own and enhancements to meats and desserts.



Heart of the Desert is a working pistachio ranch and vineyard with four retail establishments in New Mexico. They are best known for their farm fresh pistachios and Award-Winning New Mexico wines.  Each store offers wine and pistachio tastings. They offer worldwide shipping and produce attractive gourmet baskets that make great corporate and family gifts. The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcases how pistachios are grown and processed as well as a stunning Tuscany themed patio that overlooks the groves and is available for weddings, private parties or enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.