Fistiki Aiginis – The pistachio of Aegina
Fistiki (pistachio) is the fruit of the pistachio-tree, a small deciduous tree. Pistachio is native to Iran with the earliest traces of the fruit being eaten dating back to the 7th millennium BC. The pistachio-tree ranges among the trees known after the conquests of Alexander the Great. During the Byzantine Empire, pistachios used to be very popular and were offered in the eateries as appetizer to accompany wine. Currently, pistachio-trees are widely cultivated in Asia, the Mediterranean and the United States.
In 1896, Nikolas Peroglou created the first organized pistachio-tree plantation in Aegina planting pistachio seeds that he had possibly brought from Syria. From Aegina, the cultivation of pistachio-trees expanded first to Attica and from there, to the rest of Greece. Growing on the poor, limestone soil of the island, the pistachio-tree of Aegina utilizes the properties of the soil to its fullest benefit. Enjoying a dry climate, limited irrigation and close proximity to the sea, the fruit of this tree is endowed with particular organoleptic properties, an exquisite taste and aroma that have justly attributed to the pistachio of Aegina a worldwide fame; the pistachio of Aegina is currently considered to be the best in the world.
Pistachios, together with other few foods, are considered a superfood, providing a plethora of beneficial nutrients.
Fistiki Aiginis (meaning the pistachio of Aegina) has been granted PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) designation since 1997.
Each 1000 m2 estate on the island yields approximately 300 kilos of pistachio while the residents of Aegina who cultivate the pistachio of Aegina rise up 700; it is worth pointing out that most of them are not farmers. Half of them are members of the local Fistiki Aiginis Cooperative (1947) that harvests, processes, packages and distributes the pistachio of Aegina. The rest of the producers either distribute their produce on the market themselves or sell it to wholesale nut packaging distributors.
The annual production of the pistachio of Aegina rises up to 600-800 tonnes. Iran is the no. 1 pistachio producing country in the world followed by the United States, Turkey and Syria. Greece with an annual production of 9,500 tonnes of pistachio is ranked first in Europe and sixth in the world.
We have visited a few artisan producers on the island, such as Eleni Kypraiou and Nikos Tzitzis, to witness from close the production of the famous pistachio of Aegina. Click on the links to see how exciting this is!