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Taste test: pistachio nuts

Most low-calorie snacks are sold in such small portions that we end up eating the whole box to satisfy a craving. That's usually not the case with pistachio nuts. These greenish tree nuts, originally from the Middle East, pack loads of flavor and high fiber in a 1-ounce serving. They are low calorie and have less fat than most nuts. Today, most of the pistachios we buy come from farms in California and Arizona. Our judges shelled their way through six brands of roasted, salted pistachio nuts. All were good and some were great.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Wonderful 90Great Value 81Planters 74

Nice butter flavor and a smooth texture made these pistachios a top pick. Judges said the nuts had the perfect balance between "salty, chewy, crispy and roasted." One said, "This is an all-around great nut. I am fantasizing about turning it into pistachio ice cream — yummy!" Another judge liked the color of this nut. "It's nicely opened — like an open-mouth kiss from Marilyn Monroe when you see a little red/pink color," he said.These pistachios were plump and perfectly salted, judges said. Most of the brands were overly salty for our panelists. They liked Walmart's store brand for its subtle flavor. "These have a great bite," said one. Another said, "These pistachios give me the excellent memory of being in a town along the Greek coast."Judges appreciated the flavor of these nuts because they had plenty of salt but not the bitterness they tasted in some of the roasted varieties. "These are a nice sized nut with very good color," said one judge. "These would be great to have on the snack table at a summer barbecue." A couple of judges liked the Planters pistachios for their texture. "They also look pretty," added one.

they buy?
All five judges said yes.Four of the five judges said yes.All five judges said yes.
Shopping information$4.99 for a 10-ounce bag from Publix.$6.98 for a 16-ounce bag from Walmart.$7.19 for a 12.75-ounce bag from Publix.

Also Sampled: Archer Farms ($4.49 for an 8-ounce bag from Target, 68 points); Gold Emblem ($5.49 for a 12-ounce bag from CVS, 64 points); and the Fresh Market Organic ($7.99 for a 6-ounce bag, 35 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Wayne Conery, manager of the R-Bar on Treasure Island; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; and John Hehn, owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeHalf cupHalf cupHalf cup
Fat/Fiber14g / 3g14g / 3g13g / 3g
Sugars/Sodium2g / 160mg2g / 160mg2g / 180mg
Carbs/Protein8g / 6g8g / 6g8g / 6g

Taste test: pistachio nuts 06/11/13 [Last modified: Monday, June 10, 2013 2:54pm]
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