As the world comes to a standstill as we try to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we encourage all of you to hunker down right now, too. In the meantime, we’ll keep posting articles to help you navigate the state of RV travel as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it’s safe to get back on the road again.
One of the largest pistachio tree grooves in New Mexico, PistachioLand is a destination that can be enjoyed by all ages. Located in the Tularosa Basin outside of Alamogordo it’s an easy day trips from Las Cruces and can be combined with a visit to White Sands National Park.
The Tularosa Basin has the perfect climate for growing pistachios, pecans, and grapes. There are numerous wineries and nut farms where you can enjoy delicious wine and nut tastings and beautiful views of the Sacramento Mountains.
PistachioLand is the home of the World’s Largest Pistachio, Pistachio Tree Ranch, McGinn’s Country Store, and Arena Blanca Winery. Experience their motorized farm tour, take your photo with the World’s Largest Pistachio, shop inside their country store for farm grown and hand crafted goodies, sit on the porch with views of the mountains, try their free samples at the pistachio bar, enjoy the wine tasting room, and grab a sweet treat in PistachioLand ice cream parlor. There is so much to see and experience at McGinn’s PistachioLand.
The World’s Largest Pistachio was built in honor of PistachioLand’s founder, Thomas McGinn. After his passing in 2008, his son, Timothy McGinn erected the 30 foot sculpture in memory of his father. Tim wanted everyone who passed by PistachioLand to take note of what his dad created, a 111-acre pistachio orchard and vineyard started from bare desert land in 1980. From the first trees planted to today, PistachioLand now is home to over 12,000 pistachio trees and 14 acres of wine grapes.
A bronze plaque at the base of the nut states that, “Tom dreamed big, expected big, and accomplished big things. He would have said the monument is not big enough!”
The pistachio probably originated in Central Asia where large stands of wild trees are found in areas known today as Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan. Evidence indicates that fruits of the tree have been eaten for over 8,000 years. The first commercial plantings in these countries were most likely started from seeds collected from the best wild trees.
The tree was introduced into Mediterranean Europe at about the beginning of the Christian era. The elevation and climate in the Tularosa Basin is almost identical to the pistachio producing areas of Iran and Turkey.
The scientific name for the pistachio is Pistacia vera L. It is a member of the Anacardiaceae family which contains such widely known plants as the cashew, mango, sumach, and poison ivy.
The pistachio nut is one of the most popular tree nuts in the world and is valued globally for its nutritional value, health and sensory attributes, and economic importance.
Pistachio nuts are relatively low in sugar (approximately 10 percent) and high in protein (20 percent) and oil (50 percent) contents. The oil is 90 percent unsaturated fatty acids, 70 percent of which is oleic acid and 20 percent the more desirable linoleic acid.
Pistachio trees grow in dry climates and can reach up to 39 feet in height. In the spring, the trees develop grape-like clusters of green colored fruits, known as drupes, which gradually harden and turn red.
Within the fruit is a green and purple seed which is the edible part of the fruit. As the fruits ripen, the shell hardens and splits open with a pop exposing the seed within. The fruits are picked, hulled, dried, and often roasted before being sold.
Because pistachios are the seed of a drupe, they are not a true botanical nut. In fact, they’re the edible seed of the pistachio tree fruit. However, in the culinary world pistachios are treated as nuts and they’re also classified as a tree nut allergen.
It is a deciduous tree requiring approximately 1,000 hours of temperature at or below 45 degrees in order to grow normally after its winter dormancy. Pistachio nut trees are generally suited for areas where summers are long, hot, and dry and the winters are moderately cold. A native desert tree, it does not tolerate high humidity in the growing season.
A large percentage of pistachios are marketed in the shell for eating-out-of-the-hand snack food. Pistachios are a rich source of essential nutrients, fiber, and protein. Low in saturated fat and cholesterol free, increasing numbers of people are discovering how enjoyable this delicious nut can be.
If you ever go to New Mexico, it will itch you for the rest of your life. —Georgia O’Keeffe