The pistachio, a member of the cashew family, is a small tree originating from Central Asia and the Middle East. American botanist William E. Whitehouse brought pistachios to the U.S. in 1930 and planted the first test plots. However, pistachio trees take 7 to 10 years to mature, so it was almost a decade before he had his first success. The pistachio’s uniqueness is its green color. Used in desserts, ice cream and for snacking, they are quite a delicacy because of their rich, agreeable flavor.
Pine nuts are the hard-to-harvest seed of the umbrella-shaped stone pine tree, which has been cultivated for its nuts for over 6,000 years. This versatile, torpedo-shaped kernel has been used for centuries in a variety of international cuisines, especially Mediterranean. In fact, its sweet flavor and delicate crunch continues to be used as the basis for great pesto, breads and pastries, or to add body, texture and flavor to favorite sauces, entrées and salads.
Native to the Americas, sunflowers were cultivated for their seeds thousands of years ago in present-day Mexico, Arizona and New Mexico. Some archaeologists suggest that the sunflower may have been domesticated before corn. Sunflower kernels were ground into flour for cakes or breads, squeezed for their oil or cracked from their shells to enjoy as a snack.