How to Skin Pistachio Nuts – Easy Method for Removing Skin from Pistachios on ToriAvey.com
Pistachios are very special, as far as nuts go– in fact, they might even be considered the most “royal” of all nuts. They were first cultivated 3,000 years ago in ancient Persia, where they flourished in the arid and semi-arid high desert climate. They were once considered food for the wealthy. According to an oft-repeated legend, the Queen of Sheba is said to have confiscated all deliveries of fine pistachios so that she could keep them for herself and her royal court. There’s also an old adage that tells of lovers meeting beneath pistachio trees in the moonlight. If they were fortunate enough to hear the nuts cracking, they considered it a sign of future happiness. I particularly love the significance of pistachios in Iranian homes, where a cup is always ready to share with family and friends.
Once shelled, pistachios have a thin skin on the nut that sometimes needs to be removed for the purposes of a recipe. The skin is perfectly edible, but it can mar the texture of pureed pistachios, and it can take away from the nut’s lovely, distinctive green color. Luckily, removing the skin is a simple (if somewhat time consuming) process. I’ve managed to pare it down to a fairly simple procedure, which I’ve outlined below with step-by-step photos.
Beauty shots and styling by Bethany Nauert.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Use twice the amount of water as nuts - for example, if you have 1 cup of nuts, boil 2 cups of water. Add the pistachios to the boiling water and remove from heat. Let stand for 3-4 minutes.
- Drain the pistachio nuts and rinse with cold water.
- Place the pistachio nuts in small batches, a handful at a time, in the middle of a clean white kitchen towel (towels with a rougher surface work best). Rub the nuts vigorously within the towel to loosen the skins. Many will come off. A few papery skins will remain.
- Place the nuts in a bowl. For any nuts with skin that remains intact, gently squeeze the skin until the nut is released. Discard the skins.
- Once skinned, the pistachios will be damp. This may or may not be helpful for your particular recipe. If cutting the pistachios into slivers or quarters, it is easiest to do them right away while still moist. If using in a recipe, generally you will want a dry nut. Spread them out on a lint-free towel and let them dry out thoroughly before using.