Harvesting Pistachio Trees: When And How To Harvest Pistachios

by johnah on November 7, 2020

Harvesting Pistachios: When And How To Harvest Pistachios

The best time to harvest pistachios is from late September until early April. You will have to wait till they grow into small nuts before harvesting them. They can be harvested either by hand or with a machine. There are two ways of picking up the nuts: Hand Pick and Machine Pick Up.

Hand Pick:

You can pick the nuts yourself using a knife or a spoon. If you use a knife, make sure it is sharpened well so that you don’t cut yourself while picking the nuts. A fork may also do the job just fine. Just place one nut on top of another and then push down on the fork to separate them.

Then, pull out all the way and eat!

Machine Pick Up:

If you want to get rid of the nuts easily, then you can use a machine. These machines are available in most grocery stores nowadays. They are called “pick and place”. Simply put the nuts in the slot and press a button and away you go!

The machine picks up the nuts very quickly and places them neatly into a bag ready for your consumption.

Harvesting Nuts: How To Harvest Pistachios?

So you want to harvest some nuts yourself?

It is quite easy! They grow on trees that are about 12 feet high. The trees can be either male or female, and only the female trees will grow the famous nuts we all cherish so much! There are many ways of telling the difference between a male tree and a female tree.

When harvesting the nuts you should ensure that you pick them all. If you miss one, then it might grow into a new tree and this can quickly overpopulate your pistachio orchard! So always double check that you’ve picked up every nut.

Harvesting Pistachios: How To Pick And Process Pistachios?

Harvesting nuts is easy, simply pick them up off the ground when the time comes, but what about processing them so they are ready to eat?

This is more tricky! For each pound of unshelled nuts it takes about 1 to 2 hours to prepare them before they are ready to eat. If you want, you can also choose to leave the nuts in their shells, this will extend the shelf life of them and make them last longer, but of course then you would need to shell them before consuming.

This process can be done in many different ways but we will describe the common methods used here:

The first step of nut processing is to remove the bad nuts, these are split open and discarded. The remaining raw nuts are then placed in a solution containing water and calcium hydroxide, also known as milk of lime. This step is to help loosen the hard almond shaped shell so it’s easier to remove later. The nuts are then taken out and put into water to rinse off the lime solution.

The next step is to remove the thin brown skin that wraps around the hard shell by placing them in boiling water or sometimes in a pressure cooker. The skin will then pop off making your job of removing the shell much easier. From here they are dried either using air or oven drying. Once dried they can be placed immediately into containers for selling or stored in bulk using silos or storage rooms.

Hints on How To Harvest And Process Pistachios:

Harvesting Pistachio Trees: When And How To Harvest Pistachios - Image

When the shells start to crack during the removal process, it can be a very tricky step. If you remove them too early then the shell will be brittle and difficult to remove, if you leave it in too long then the nut will start to break apart or even start to grow mold! So it is quite a careful step.

After the shells have been removed they are then usually placed into a drying room for about a week to make sure they are dry before packing. If you let them dry for too long, they will start to split and break apart due to the shrinking process. So this step is quite important.

Pistachios have very delicate enzymes which break down the nut if not removed. This is called rancidity. There are a few ways to remove the taste, one of which is to add a lot of salt, this can easily be removed once you are ready to eat them. Another way is to use chemicals to stop the process from taking place, this is less common but works very well.

It depends on your personal choice as to how you want to do it, some methods work better than others depending on the flavor and quality of your pistachios.

Pistachios can be sold in their shells or shelled, either way they need to be placed in containers before selling. The method of container is up to you, you can use simple bags or more traditional tins or jars. The size of the container will vary depending on how many you are wanting to sell and the budget you have to do it in.

Pistachios are a popular choice of snack and have a fairly long shelf life if kept in cool dry place such as a cupboard. Make sure they are stored somewhere safe from pests or rodents who may want to eat them too.

Once you have your finished product, there are many ways to get it to your customers. You can set up a roadside stall, sell them in markets or even online. You can sell in smaller amounts such as a handful for a low price or in bulk to shops and supermarkets. It’s all up to you and how much work you want to put in!

Harvesting And Processing Your Nuts

So now that you have looked at all your choices of trees, it’s time to get harvesting and processing your nuts! If you haven’t already chosen, now is the time to decide what type of tree you want.

As a rule of thumb, you will need about 500 trees per acre. This may vary depending on the variety and growing conditions but it’s a good starting point. So for example, if you have ten acres of orchard, you will need 5,000 trees.

Nut harvesting will take between 3 to 5 years before the first nut is harvested. The first year you will need to plant the seeds, the second year you can start to grow them on and the third year your first nuts should be ready for harvesting if all goes well. Picking the fruit or nuts should begin after year 4 or 5 and continue every year after that.

Due to cross-pollination, it is best to choose only one type of tree to grow in your orchard unless you plan your orchard specifically to produce seedlings to sell.

So, now you have your trees planted and a good idea of when to harvest your crop, you need to think about processing the nuts. You can take the easy route and simply pick them off the ground and eat them as they fall or you can set up a more complicated system to help you process them.

Sources & references used in this article:

Distribution of aflatoxin in pistachios. 2. Distribution in freshly harvested pistachios by TF Schatzki – Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 1995 – ACS Publications

Prevention of aflatoxin in pistachios by E Boutrif – Food Nutrition and Agriculture, 1998 – agrostrat.gr

Pistachio (Pistacia vera L.) by M Kashaninejad, LG Tabil – Postharvest biology and technology of tropical …, 2011 – Elsevier

Effect of harvesting time on nut quality of pistachio (Pistacia vera L.) cultivars by B Panahi, M Khezri – Scientia horticulturae, 2011 – Elsevier

Design and evaluation of a yield monitoring system for pistachios by UA Rosa, TS Rosenstock, H Choi… – Transactions of the …, 2011 – elibrary.asabe.org

Growth of Salmonella on Inoculated Inhull Pistachios during Postharvest Handling by M Moussavi, V Lieberman, C Theofel… – Journal of food …, 2019 – meridian.allenpress.com

Investigation of aflatoxin contamination in indehiscence and mechanical splitting pistachios by F Ahmadi, A Tajabadipour – Journal of Nuts, 2011 – ijnrs.damghaniau.ac.ir



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