Thursday, April 02, 2009


Monday morning at five o’clock, we were listening to the news. The reporter said, “We have another food recall to tell you about. This time it is pistachios.” I chuckled a little. In the last three days we had eaten our share of pistachios and on top of that, we had five pounds on the dining room table.

Char and I took a trip to Alamogordo, New Mexico. This wasn’t our first choice but the weather in South Dakota sounded iffy. I brought up the idea of going to Alamogordo to see the pistachio groves. Char looked at me, smiled, and said that would be fine. I think she was humoring me. She probably wanted to say, “Hey, you wanted to spend nine hours in the car to look at trees planted in a straight line that’s fine with me.”

Vineyards, groves, hay fields, orchards, farms, and plantations have always fascinated me. Now I’ll admit most people probably don’t get excited about those things but a pistachio grove is worth the trip.

There are two pistachio groves and one pecan grove near Alamogordo and we stopped at all three. Eagle Ranch and McGinn’s grow pistachios, the Nut House raises pecans.

Eagle Ranch was the first pistachio grove in New Mexico. It is now the largest. It’s 85 acres in size and has roughly 12,000 pistachio trees. They also have 18,000 grape vines from which a variety of wines are made including one with a pistachio taste called, Pistachio Rose.

Here are the pistachio trees and just like Char thought – they are planted in a straight line. They usually plant the trees on a 17’ x 17’ spacing.

Harvest is around September 10th. Following harvest, the hull (called the epicarp) needs to be removed within 24 hours or the inner shell will become stained. After the epicarp is removed, the nuts are power washed four times. Then they are sorted by hand twice. One sorting removes rocks, sticks, and other debris. They also do a in-shell removal, this includes nuts that have not started to open or are stained.

The in-shell removals go into the sheller. Here the nutmeat is removed from the shell.

Pistachios still in the shell are roasted in this machine. After a little roasting they come out of the oven, flavoring is added, then back into the roaster.

This machine is used to add flavoring. There is a wide range of flavors including salted, lemon lime, red chili, green chili, garlic and others. Only one flavor a day is done and the machine needs to be thoroughly cleaned.

Then we were off to McGinn’s pistachio tree ranch.
They also offer a variety of pistachio flavors.
These are some of the younger trees on the ranch. These trees start producing nuts in the fourth or fifth year and yield one-half a pound. At maturity, which is in 15 to 20 years, each tree will produce around seventy pounds of pistachios
Now is where my kids need to pay attention. This is the world’s largest pistachio. It is a monument to Thomas McGinn who passed away in 2007. Mr. McGinn was the founder of the Pistachio Tree Ranch. The monument was conceived and put in place by his kids. I don’t need anything this big but - a little something (about half this size) would be nice.

So, on Monday morning when I heard the pistachio recall involved California pistachio I was a little relieved. Not that it mattered, I had already made up my mind I was going to eat the pistachios and drink the wine.


Blogger Lanny said...

And what exactly would your momument look like at half that size? With all the processing the pistachio goes through how in the heck could it have any salmonella. germs left on it? Amazing.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Granny Annie said...

Everything I wanted to know about pistachios but was afraid to ask!

7:20 AM  
Blogger bobbie said...

Don't think I'd stop eating them either. If I had any. I'm still eating peanutbutter. At my age, I tend to say, "Oh well" and continue to enjoy.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Cliff said...

I'm thinking a 'nut' monument would suffice for you too.

They weren't running the time we were there.

Did you get to see them shake their nuts?

7:36 PM  
Blogger Paul Nichols said...

I liked that picture of the windmill. I've thought about creating a folder full of windmill photos.

And speaking of nuts, I tagged you to write a nutty meme. Stop by my joint.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Gotta laugh at Cliff's comment!!

I think this would be a fun place to visit. I had never seen a pistachio tree before. I love pistachios. Yummy good they are, and so hard to eat just a few! Addictive little things!

As for your monument...well..I'll leave it up to your children! I'll bet Desiree could come up with something cool right off the bat!! Haha!

9:48 PM  
Blogger Cheyenne said...

I love pistachios and I love wine, so that Pistachio Rose wine is right up my alley I suppose.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

Yum, yum, yummyI I love pistachios!
You'd love to visit the almond company where my mom works. There are hundreds of acres of almond trees. There's a sheller and huller and processing plant and lots of cold storage. It's quite a tour.
If you ever happen to be in central CA and want to tour the plant, I can set you up with the best tour guide... my momma!
Harvest time it's fun to watch them shake the nuts off the trees.
I'm glad you enjoyed your trip!

4:27 PM  
Blogger Aravis said...

That is one impressive nut but, then again, so are you! *G*

BTW, I dreamt the other day that you and Char came to visit. :0)

11:00 AM  
Blogger nora said...

I'm glad the recall didn't effect your nuts.

Um, time for me to go.....

12:32 PM  

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