Pistachios from the Greek island of Aegina (EHyee-nah), are prized throughout Greece, and indeed the world, for their delicious flavor and crunchy texture.
Located in the Saronic Gulf near mainland Greece, Aegina has the perfect temperature, climate and soil for growing pistachios, and is recognized by the EU as a P.D.O. (Protected Designation of Origin).
The variety of pistachio that grows on Aegina is Koilarati. A more rare variety that produces a smaller nut with a flavor and texture that is superior to others.
A result of unique weather patterns, Aegina is one of the driest locations in Greece. The pistachios are essentially dry-farmed on the chalky soils, imparting a concentrated flavor to the mature nut. They receive only two small doses of water twice in late summer, to increase the ratio of opened (i.e. ripened) nuts. Such sustainable watering practices are in stark contrast to the heavily-irrigated, industrially farmed US pistachios, which require upwards of 40 inches of irrigation per crop.
These delicious pistachios are grown and roasted on Aegina by Michalis Zois, whose family has farmed pistachios on Aegina for over 50 years, and who also operates a pistachio shop at the small port where the ferries dock. Michalis drenches them in a brine of sea salt from the Mediterranean Sea and fresh lemon juice from Crete before roasting them to perfection. The lemon is very subtle, adding a brightness to the flavor. They are also available unsalted.