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.
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.
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.