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Pistachios are one of the most expensive nuts in the world. Shelled pistachios are not easy on the pocket, especially if they’re one of those snacks you can’t live without. You may be wondering, “Why are pistachios so expensive?” There’s a reason why you can’t always indulge in these nuts the way you do with peanuts, and you can’t always mix them with every dessert if you’re on a budget.
The reason why pistachios are so expensive now is that they have long growing cycles and are a labor-intensive crop. Their trees grow slowly over a decade or two and require plenty of water and sunlight to thrive. Additionally, pistachios are harvested by hand instead of being picked up off the ground by a harvester like other varieties of nuts. This article will explore the world of pistachios and why buying these nuts always seems to cost you a pretty penny.
They Require Special Weather Conditions
Although pistachios are not very picky when it comes to soil conditions and can grow in moderate soil, the weather conditions they need for optimal growth are very specific. Here are some of the unique requirements for cultivating pistachios:
Generally, they thrive in hot summers and cool winters. Their ideal temperature ranges between 14°F in winter and 104°F in summer.
Sunlight and Humidity
Pistachios need enough hours to grow under crisp sunlight and low humidity to ensure their kernels ripen well before picking. Due to this, there are only specific places in the world where they can grow. They must have the ideal weather for mass production.
They Grow on Valuable Land
Some of the specific places in the world with ideal weather conditions for growing healthy pistachios are California, Iran, Syria, China, and Turkey. They are known for mass-producing the finest pistachios globally and are thus the leading producers of pistachios that we know today. If you’ve always wondered why Turkish pistachios are so expensive, now you know!
In California, for example, warm-weather trees grow on Zones 9a 9b, which are suitable for pistachios. These areas have an average temperature range of 20°F to 25°F and 25°F to 30°F, respectively. However, the said gardening zones also grow other nuts, making the land more valuable because they can grow other crops, too.
Long Growing Cycles to Produce Fruit
Pistachios are difficult to cultivate because a single tree takes roughly five years before it bears fruits. On top of that, it takes 15 to 20 years after it bears fruits before it can reach mass production level. That’s a seriously long time to achieve a return on investment from the day the tree is planted.
Apart from the long growing period, female trees produce the tastiest pistachios, while males produce 15% less capacity than their female counterparts. After making less than 50 bags, female trees take a long time to replenish themselves. This means they only get to produce every other year.
A Single Tree Doesn’t Produce That Much
Male trees are primarily used for pollination because of the small number of fruits they produce. This implies that the mass production of pistachios rests heavily on female trees. Due to annual crop rotation, farmers often grow substantially less the following year.
To compensate for the year of loss production, farmers need to adjust the price of pistachios to make up for the lost time. This then adds to the overall cost of pistachios sold in the market.
Hand-Picking and Sorting Them Takes Time
To produce high-quality pistachios, workers pick and sort them by hand to make sure they get to select only the finest crops. The ones with lesser quality are sometimes combined with other nuts to create a nut mix or crushed for dessert toppings.
When you buy a pound of pistachios, you can be sure that everything in your bag has undergone a meticulous hand-picking and sorting process. It takes great skill and effort for the workers to know which pistachios will be most desirable for consumers and profitable for farmers. Apart from that, they need to do it quickly.
Farmers Find It Hard To Reduce Expenses
Taking care of crops can be expensive, especially when the ones you’re growing require constant care and attention. Pistachio trees need precisely that to bear high-quality fruits. Although California lands provide them with the right weather and soil, drought conditions can sometimes be challenging for forecasting annual crop yields.
When it gets too hot, and it doesn’t rain that often, farmers need more water to maintain their crops, which leads to additional year-round costs. So, you can expect the prices of pistachios to go up whenever the water levels are down. Farmers need to adjust their prices to compensate for the lag in their profits.
They Are Popularly Used in Different Dishes
Pistachios go well with various dishes, from pasta recipes and salads to desserts and other baked goods. There are so many ways to use them for adding flavor to all kinds of foods that this versatility has inevitably contributed to the high demand, thus a price increase.
You’re probably beginning to understand now why cashews and pistachios are so expensive to use as baking ingredients. Sometimes, it makes sense to settle for their more affordable alternatives.
All Natural Foods Cost More
Finally, one solid reason for pistachios being so expensive is that they’re a popular choice among health-conscious people. Healthy snacks typically cost more than your usual salty and sugary goods. This is because most of the unhealthy snacks you’ll find on grocery aisles use ingredients that are produced abundantly and, therefore, easy to find.
Pistachios are rich in vitamin B6, potassium, protein, and copper. One serving is equivalent to the fiber content found in a cup of broccoli. Because of these health benefits, those who wish to stay fit choose pistachios as a healthy alternative to other nuts.
Conclusion: Pistachios Are Worth the Price
Weather conditions, picking and sorting requirements, and overall popularity are factors that determine the price of pistachios and why they are so expensive. Evaluating these different reasons may boil down to pistachios being challenging to grow, hence requiring special care. All the other reasons that stem from this lead to a high demand, which explains why those Wonderful pistachios are so expensive.
If you’re sad about why those pistachios cost so much and why shelled pistachios are so expensive, you can always opt for the unshelled ones. They’re relatively cheaper and still provide the same vitamins and nutrients you need to stay full and healthy.
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