The true and the false Bronte pistachio

Bronte pistachio in front of Etna

The Bronte pistachio is one of the main treasures of my beloved Sicily. Hidden amid the hills of Etna, caressed by the sun of the mountains and by the strength of lava stone, the pistachio from Bronte is a much searched nut in the world. Just think that it is so much demanded that, often, it is impossible to find (and buy). Especially if you look for the original Bronte pistachios, namely the nuts from the namesake village where the namesake tree is grown. In this new post, I want to help you better know and find the original Bronte pistachios from Sicily in order to avoid buying the false Bronte pistachio. Indeed, you must know that in Sicily, dealers sell simultaneously, the true Pistachio from Bronte and a fake nut coming from abroad and which looks like the famous pistachios from Bronte. Well, now that you know these details, I invite you to read the following paragraphs where you’ll discover things that none said to you about these delicious Sicilian nuts.

Bronte pistachio features

Bronte pistachio PDO

Pistachio is a typical and traditional Sicilian food. Indeed, Sicily is the unique region of Italy where pistachio is produced. The main production is in Bronte, the small village near Etna mount. Truth to tell, the area where the pistachio from Bronte grows is very small, only 30000 square meters. Unfortunately, they are not enough to satisfy the requests coming from all over the world. (That is the first truth about Bronte pistachios you must know). Anyway, the pistachio from Bronte has some particular features that made it very famous throughout our planet. The nuts that grow near Etna have, in fact, a more brilliant green colour, along with a special aroma and a taste globally known as unique and very particular. Thanks to these features, Bronte pistachio is also called the green gold in Sicily and the main economic source of the namesake village of Bronte. This “green gold” gained the protected designation of origin (PDO) in 2009.

Today, the territory of Bronte is saturated of with frail and weak pistachio trees, the so called “pistacchietti” in Italian or “little pistachios” in English. They are sticky for the resin and rises from the black lava rock like roots in reverse. Winding lava pistachio plots are always turned to the West side of Sicily with Etna behind of them. To pick these delicious nuts, you must hike these plots. You must also struggle amid the female trees, which surrounds the male ones with the stronger trunks to be pollinated by them.

The Bronte pistachio is picked between August and September. The nuts get shaken and dropped in large bags tied to the neck of the pickers. Sometimes, the bags are replaced with sheets under the trees. The harvest occurs every two years, to allow the plant to rest and make the nuts more resistant to adversities.

Be careful not to eat the nuts during the time of resting because you’ll get cursed by the inhabitants of Bronte with these words: if you eat them, you’ll get fever, fever! That is a simple warning to avoid people eats the nuts before the harvest.

Scattered amid the plots with the pistacchietti, there are some picturesque houses with large terraces, where the pistachios are exposed under the sun to dry in the final stage of the harvest. If weather is rainy, the sheets are immediately closed to protect the precious fruits.

Nutritional values

Pistachios contain a great amount of A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C and E Vitamins and a relevant presence of minerals, such as potassium, phosphor, magnesium, calcium and selenium. The latter is helpful in case of thyroid diseases. Due to the emerald green colour, the raw pistachio from Bronte has a higher mineral concentration than the other types of pistachios. To leverage the healthy properties of pistachio, it is better to avoid salted nuts. As the other types of dried fruit, even pistachio can trig food intolerance and allergies. The pistachio allergy can be very severe. For this reason, you mustn’t eat pistachios if you suffer from dried fruit intolerance or allergies.

How to know the true Bronte pistachio from the fake Bronte pistachio

As said above, the surface of Bronte cultivated with pistachio is very small to satisfy the global demand of this traditional Sicilian nut. To compensate this scarcity, many Sicilian dealers sell Bronte pistachio along with the pistachio from Greece or Iran! Often, these two types of pistachios are also disguised and sold as pistachio from Bronte, even though they are not it. Obviously, that is an awful fraud and for this reason, I want to help you avoid that!

Is there a method to distinguish the true Bronte pistachio from the false pistachio? The reply is absolutely, yes! Pay attention to these important differences.

1 Shape

If you must buy peeled pistachios, look at the shape of the raw fruit: the Bronte pistachios have a pointed shape. If they have a rounded shape, they are not from Bronte!

If you buy unpeeled pistachios, pay attention to the end of the peel: the Bronte pistachio peel will never have a convex end (turned to the external), but a concave end (turned to the internal) to protect the internal fruit.

2 Colour

Unfortunately, the shape is not enough to recognize the true Bronte pistachio, because the pistachio from Greece has a similar shape. We must look at the colour, also. The skin of the fruit from Bronte has a violet colour, like the one of eggplants, with pale green reflections. Cut into two parts, the pistachio from Bronte will have the typical emerald green colour, due to the high concentration of chlorophyll. There will never be yellow signs in the Pistachio from Bronte.

If you want the true Bronte pistachio, don’t trust yellow colours, the more yellow the row nuts are, the more unlikely they are from Bronte.

3 Flavor

The true pistachio from Bronte has a very sweet flavor. You’ll never find the true Bronte pistachio flavored with salt, because the spicy and sweet aroma of this Sicilian nut is so strong that it has no need to be salted.

4 Name

At last, but not least, another advice: the true Bronte pistachio always has the protected designation of origin PDO (or DOP – Denominazione di origine protetta – in Italian). Hence, before buying the pistachio from Bronte, look at its label: if you find Pistacchio verde di Bronte DOP, you’ll have the guarantee it is the true Bronte pistachio. You can also find “pistachio from Bronte” or “Sicilian pistachio”, in the label, but, with this name, it is likely you find a fake Bronte pistachio.

About Sicilian pistachio

The pistachio from Bronte is Sicilian, obviously, but you must also know that you can find pistachios in the other zones of Sicily. Another less known Sicilian pistachio is the one from Ribera, in the province of Agrigento. In reality, the pistachio from Ribera is grown in the small village of Raffadali (see the image below), near Ribera.

Bronte and Raffadali are hence the two main Sicilian producers of Sicilian pistachios. Unlike the pistachio from Bronte, the one from Raffadali is cultivated in limestone grounds near the beaches. The pistachio from Raffadali is less green than the one from Bronte and for this reason it can be mistaken with the fake Sicilian pistachio from Iran. The price of green Pistachio from Bronte Dop is around 40 and 90 euros per kg. I disagree with these outrageous prices and, indeed, I bought the pistachio from Raffadali or common pistachio from Bronte or Sicilian pistachio or pistachio from Greece, sometimes. They have more affordable prices in comparison to the pistachio from Bronte DOP.

Bronte pistachio recipes

The pistachio from Bronte is usually used to prepare many delicious Sicilian recipes, such as the famous pistachio arancini and pistachio ice cream. About pistachio cream, the true cream obtained with the true pistachio from Bronte is never green, but beige colour, because, during cooking, the pistachio looses the typical green colour. You can find also chopped pistachio. In this case, the colour of the chopped pistachio from Bronte is always green and violet. The chopped pistachio is usually sprinkled on pasta, cake and cannoli. There is also pistachio flour. That is a very tiny chopped pistachio you can use to prepare breaded chicken steaks. I prepared them and, thanks to the Sicilian pistachios, they were absolutely delicious.

Where to buy Bronte pistachios

Unfortunately, it is not so easy to buy pistachio from Bronte when you are in Sicily. At the local markets in Sicily (I am Sicilian) I never found pistachio from Bronte. Every once I asked for it, the dealers asked me to order the product. Maybe, you can buy the true pistachio from Bronte, just in this village. During the Bronte pistachio festival which is held every year in September, you can even taste true pistachio from Bronte for free and buy your favorite products during the same days of the festival. You can also eat pistachio from Bronte, through very interesting tours to picturesque Bronte pistachio farms. One of them is near the area of Bronte pistachio festival. However, if you can’t visit Sicily, you can buy the pistachio from Bronte on Amazon. However, I noticed that every local store of Amazon shows different Bronte pistachio sellers. I have been redirected to the one in Italy, for instance. Hence, I suppose you’ll be redirected to the one in your Country. Many products with Bronte pistachio are for sale on the Amazon stores in Italy and the UK. I really hope you’ll find the same products I visualized on Amazon IT.

You can also find delicious pistachio Sicilian pastry made by a Sicilian pastry chef on this online shop.

If the prices of the above mentioned products are affordable and if you’ll be succeed to visualize the same products I saw, I would like you to support the Sicilian producers with your purchase. They will always grateful to you.

Photocredits in order of appearance:


6 thoughts on “The true and the false Bronte pistachio

  1. Pingback: Bronte, the sad history of a delicious village | SICILY ON WEB

  2. Pingback: Sicilian Lemons | SICILY ON WEB

    1. Rosalba Mancuso Post author

      Hi Joseph,
      Thank you so much for your remark.
      I replaced the wrong image with the right one.
      This proves that people still read blogs.

  3. Daniele Galvagno

    Hello Rosalba,
    Thank you very much for this nice and interesting blog!
    I’m impressed about your passion and love to details around Sicily.
    Just in one point I would rather make a remark than a critic:
    About the prices for Pistacchio di Bronte are expensive, true.
    But please hold to count, that most people have not a clear view on what the conditions for the producers are to get this rare and delicious nut on the table served. Not only the harvest of every two years, but also wether, most and during summer at high temperatures and sometimes even hail in August and sometimes just no rain for months. And as you remark for the ground of Agrigento, those in Bronte are cultivated on the rude lava rocks. Beside the expenses for maintenance and fertilizer for the plants also hard man work is needed. The price is an ugly but necessary detail for this exceptional nut!

    1. Rosalba Mancuso Post author

      Hi Daniele, no problem, you are welcome.
      Rather, thank you for your clear explanation about this interesting topic.
      I also add that the fields cultivated with Bronte pistachio
      are very small, and when a product becomes rare, the price rises.

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