Pistachio Pointers

For the freshest pistachios, look for ones sold in airtight packages. If they're sold in bulk, taste a few. They should be fairly crisp and not soft or soggy.

Pistachios should have clean, wide open splits, which indicate a top-grade product. If the nuts are closed, forget about trying to pry them open. If they haven't opened on the tree or during the drying process, the kernel is immature and not worth eating.

At home, put them in an airtight plastic container and refrigerate or freeze them. Stored properly, they should keep for up to one year.

Pistachios are called for in a wide range of recipes, highly prized for their delicate sweet-savory flavor and light green color. Unlike other nuts, they are not astringent. They can be substituted for almonds or walnuts in most recipes. When cooking with them, use the unsalted varieties, either roasted or raw.

The chopped nuts are also perfect for garnishes, or in salads.

Pistachios are high in potassium, phosphorus, copper, B vitamins (especially vitamin B-6) and monounsaturated fat (7 grams per serving). They also contain phytosterols, which have been linked with lowering cholesterol levels.



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