Pistachio is a household staple at my home, as well as the home in which I grew up. The savory, sweet, and salty balance always leavings me craving more. Before writing this spring flavor blog, I never thought too much about this ingredient besides its delicious taste profile, the oddly satisfying sound of breaking the shell, and the fact that it is a healthy snack.
After researching this favorite nut, I was blown away at what I learned.
- Pistachios have been around since 1200 to 165 BC and according to the Bible grew in the Garden of Eden! Genesis 43:11 says, “Then their father Israel said to them, ‘If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift — a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds.'”
- There is an entire day dedicated to Pistachios, I am sure you all celebrated already this year. But if you needed a quick reminder it was February 25th.
- They are only 4 calories per kernel, hence its snacking popularity.
- The health benefits of pistachios go way beyond their creamy texture and taste. Pistachios contain key phytochemicals that help provide antioxidant support for cardiovascular health.
- In some countries like Israel and Russia, hearing that oddly satisfying crack is actually considered good luck!
- During the pistachio maturation process, the shell will open, making a loud “pop” sound, this sound lets producers know that the seed is ready for human consumption.
Based on the Givaudan Seasons research, we discovered that pistachio is a niche spring flavor for sweet goods and chocolate users, as well as an established flavor for salty snack users. Consumers consider pistachio a fun, indulgent, and unique flavor in the spring.
So why is it that pistachio is tied to spring?
As I mentioned earlier, pistachio is a staple in my household, we snack on it all year round. We believe this nut resonates best in the spring because of its lighter, fresh profile, and its beautiful spring, green color.
Reminiscing on spring, I always think of the flowers blooming, the grass turning greener, and the beautiful nights. I often talk about leveraging vibrant colors to allow consumers to experience a playful moment (hibiscus, turmeric, tube, etc..), pistachio is one of those that is definitely underutilized. As you develop in the future find unexpected ways to use this ingredient to create a pop of color, one that is Instagrammable yet guilt-free.
Traditionally, we have seen many unique twists on pistachio in ice cream, a category that gets a lot of traction in spring as the weather is warming up and everyone is getting excited about summer. I also grew up with pistachio pudding as a family favorite! And don’t tell you me you don’t remember Grandma making the Watergate salad during the summer months…
Flavor Exploration with Pistachio
Death in Venice in Toronto, Canada has some of the most unique flavor offerings present in gelatos. One of the flavors that they offer is Middle Eastern dessert, pistachio baklava. When I was trekking in Toronto we were actually able to stop here and we tried this delicious duo. The execution of pistachio was fantastic and a slightly floral note at the end that we couldn’t quite pinpoint.
Jamba Juice went nuts for pistachios, when they launched the Pistachio Power Smoothie. The company crafts the smoothie with an ounce of pistachios, boasting a nutrient-packed blend of antioxidant vitamins A & C, 18 grams of protein, healthy fats, and a good source of fiber. A blend of almond milk, soymilk, pistachios, soy protein, kale, and mangos.
Starbucks Reserve last year launched a Bicerin Pistachio, a traditional Italian espresso beverage pronounced “be serene”. The beverage starts with a chocolate sauce lining the bottom of the glass. It’s then topped with pistachio-flavored crema and finished up with a shot of espresso on top.
While pistachio is ubiquitous as a snack and as a flavor for desserts, there are innovative opportunities in savory and beverage applications. Thinking about adult premium beverages, aka “mocktails,” consumers are looking for an elevated drinking experience. A complex, unique profile like pistachio could really differentiate your products. For more savory offerings, pistachios add a crunchy element in salads and snacks. But don’t forget about using it as a base for a uniquely flavored aioli, sauce, or soup. And crush it up for use as a crust on seafood, a pizza topping, or even as a bit of crunch in risotto.
There is no question that this ingredient is well-liked. However, there are more opportunities to leverage this profile in unique ways to create a new offering that will delight the palate.