Why Are Some Pistachios Red?

In short, because red pistachios look better than pistachios mottled with dark spots.

Why are some pistachios red?

_Hope Garcia

New York, N.Y._

Until the mid-1970s, all pistachios sold in the United States were imported, mainly from the Middle East. The traditional growing and harvesting methods used by pistachio farmers in countries such as Iran, Syria, and Greece often left blemishes on the outer shell, which American importers would mask with a red vegetable dye. But with the growth of the domestic pistachio industry, the days of the red pistachio may be numbered. About 96 percent of the pistachios currently sold in the United States are grown in California. These nuts are harvested without blemishes, which makes the red dyes moot.

_Edited by Bob Sillery

Research by Michael Moyer, Jill C. Shomer, and Trevor Thieme