Immeasurable taste coming from tiny seeds
The pistachio, member of the cashew family originating from Central Asia and the Middle East, has a long and interesting history as it’s one of the oldest flowering nut trees.
In fact, archaeological evidences suggest that the humanity has been consuming pistachio since 7,000 B.C. Blooming in hot climate, pistachio spread from the Middle East to the Mediterranean, quickly becoming a precious fruit among many civilisations. The fruit’s high nutritional value and long storage life made it an essential travel item for explorers and traders. Pistachios were carried across the ancient Silk Road that allied China with the West. The top producers of pistachio are Iran, the United States and Turkey, with %14 per cent of total production. Located as a bridge between Europe and Asia, Turkey has the advantage of producing various types of nuts thanks to its diverse climate types.
In Turkey, it is possible to see wild trees of pistachio species in almost all parts of Anatolia. However, the majority of the trees grow in the South Eastern part of the country; which make these regions the most important areas for pistachio nut cultivation. The ideal growing conditions for pistachio trees are hot, dry summers and moderately cool, short winters and these climatic conditions are found particularly in the South Eastern part of Turkey. Nevertheless, pistachios are cultivated nearly in 60 provinces of Turkey from the Mediterranean, Aegean and the Central Anatolian regions and concentrated mainly in provinces such as Gaziantep, Kahramanmaras, Adiyaman, Sanliurfa, Mardin, Diyarbakir and Siirt. With the increase in domestic and international demands, production of pistachio in Turkey increases from year to year.
Gaziantep: home of pistachio
Gaziantep, a city in the western part of Turkey’s South Eastern Anatolia Region that is also known as Antep, is considered by many as the culinary capital of Turkey, being home to various tastes among which we can see pistachio and baklava. Indeed, Gaziantep is the centre of pistachio cultivation in Turkey that lends even its name to the Turkish word used to define pistachio: Antep fistigi. In Gaziantep, pistachios are mainly picked during summer and used in making process of the baklava, beyond the plain eating. In addition, pistachio kernels are also being used as an ingredient of a number of meat products such as salami or sausages. Its consumption has become an essential part of healthy life as they are recommended primarily for coronary heart diseases, problems in blood sugar and cholesterol thanks to their high vitamin and mineral contents. In addition, even a small amount of pistachio delivers dietary fibre which is equivalent to ½ cup of spinach. Turkish pistachios have a brilliant colour which is completely natural and is believed by some, to be the tastiest in the world.