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This twisted tree with reddish bark turning to grey when the tree is adult, whose origin is quite controversial, is mentioned even in the Bible, Genesis XLIII, 11, among the presents Jacob sent to the Pharaoh as early as 1802 B.C. When the Arabian people took Sicilia away from Byzantine dominion, they spread pistachio growing in the island. The dialect word “frastuca” seems to derive from the Arab words “fristach”, “frastuch” or “festuch”. Pistachio growing massively spread in Sicilia starting from the second half of the XIX century in particular in the areas of Caltanissetta, Agrigento and Catania. Here, in the area of Bronte, at the basis of Etna, it found favourable soil and climatic conditions, so by 1860 pasture and abandoned land was turned to pistachio orchards and the plant became the core of the local agricultural and economic system.




Pistachio (Pistachiavera) is a deciduous shrub, or rather a small tree, no more than 6 metres in height, with deep roots, brown-grey twisted trunk. It grows well on lava rocks where no other plant would grow. Any male plant can fertilize up to eight female plants and pollination takes place by the wind.




It is very hard labour, given the place where plants grow; that’s why Etnean pistachios have a biennial productive cycle. After harvesting, the fruit is taken out of the hull by mechanical scraping and then put in the sun for drying for 5-6 days. Later on the pod is taken away, the fruit is peeled through a highly technological process employing high pressure steam which causes the endocarp to detach and then it is ready for market. Green pistachios are subsequently dried and roasting concludes processing phases.




In Sicilia, pistachiogrowsmainly in Bronte, Agrigento (Favara and Raffadali), and Caltanissetta (S. Cataldo). The average biennial production  amounts to 32,000 ql. plain product, 80% of which is exported to foreign countries. Perhaps thanks to the soil which is rich in mineral salts and the climate, the organoleptic properties and the flavour of pistachio from Bronte are superior to any other in the world.


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