Pistachios, one of the area’s top crops

Agriculture

FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — Pistachios are still a fairly new food. However, the challenges were not growing the trees but harvesting and processing a very different kind of nut.

Chuck Nicholas with Nichols farms says they started growing pistachios in 1983.

“Consumers now look for pistachios. They look for products with pistachios in them. I remember going on sales calls 20 and 25 years ago if you went to the midwest, not in a major city and you handed somebody pistachio and you were a shadow of gloom went across, people got kind of suspicious you were some commie from California. But now you find them everywhere,” Nichols said.

Nichols says pistachios were so new, they had to engineer processing methods on their own by borrowing machines and ideas from other industries.

“Nothing was developed for pistachios. The hullers that we use were for potatoes or carrots. That’s’ where they’re primarily used. And then we use cleaners that were mostly for the bean and seed industry. And then we use driers that are for corn. We put them in big silos that are for corn and wheat. We bring them inside. We separate the open and closed ones with equipment that was developed for the dried pea industry. We run them through sorters that were developed for coffee and beans and seeds. And then we roast them. We used to roast them in coffee roasters. First ones we had here we had coffee, the essence of coffee-flavored pistachios. for a long time,” Nichols said.

And it’s pretty cool to see what you’ve chosen as your life’s work to be accepted and enjoyed by people.

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