Nuts like pistachios and raw almonds are a highly nutritious and tasty snack. If you find them to be more than a little moreish, you’re likely to have bowlfuls of empty little shells lying around your home. But doesn’t it seem a shame to throw them all away once the nut meat has been removed? Here’s just a few useful and fun ways you can use the shells of pistachios and other nuts.
The uniform, curved shape of pistachio shells makes them a perfect material for making jewellery. Use a small, precise drill to make holes in your shells, then thread a piece of elasticated string through them and tie up to form a bracelet. You can keep their colour natural or use paint (acrylic or lacquer work well) to decorate them first. Try making earrings by threading a single, or a pair, of pistachio shells onto earring hooks and adding a pretty bead. More experienced jewellery makers will be able to come up with even more elaborate ideas, like this beautiful necklace from Kollabora!
Image sourced: Kollabora
Pistachio shells are a hard material with a high surface area, which makes them perfect for using for plant drainage. Make sure you rinse well of any salt, then place in the bottom of your plant pot before adding soil. Pistachio shells will provide the correct amount of drainage to keep your plants healthy and growing in optimal soil conditions.
Clean your tools
When ground up, pistachio shells have a coarse, gritty texture which makes them ideal for cleaning. While they may be a little harsh for exfoliating your skin, ground pistachio shells are a great way of removing dirt or dried on mud from gardening tools. Break up the shells using a hammer, then use a coffee grinder to grind them up further. A generous handful added to your usual soap or tool cleaner helps to scrub away at caked-on dirt, leaving them clean and shiny.
Making home made musical instruments and noisemakers is a great activity with kids, and is a fantastic opportunity for all kinds of recycling to take place! Create basic noisemakers by adding a handful of pistachio shells to a tin can, a cardboard tube or empty yoghurt pot, before sealing the end with a few sheets of recycled newspaper tied tightly with elastic or tape. Different containers can make different sounds, so go ahead and experiment!
Small, hard and smooth, pistachio and other nut shells are the perfect size and texture for decorating all kinds of crafts. Try painting or varnishing each shell before glueing onto a plain picture frame to turn it into a beautiful mosaic design. Alternatively, combine with gathered twigs, hessian and dried flowers to create a rustic, natural effect. Use this mosaic technique on coasters, place mats or to create standalone pictures which look great in your home and make perfect gifts.
Whole or ground pistachio or nut shells make very effective mulch. Wash to remove any salt, then place around the base of plants to retain soil moisture and repress the growth of weeds. More finely ground up shells can be placed in the cracks between garden slabs to stop weeds from springing up on patios.
Nut shells are rich in oils, which makes them naturally smokey when they burn. Throw a handful on a barbeque grill or in your usual smoker to add delicious flavour to your meat.
Being so small and hard makes nut shells ideal for making both small and large bean bags. An odd sock filled with shells and sewn up at one end is great for throwing around in the garden or the park- make 2 more and you have a juggling set! If you have a really large amount of shells, you can even set to work making a large bean bag for relaxing on. Fill a series of smaller, cushion-sized bean bags, before containing them all with a larger piece of fabric. This helps your bean bag to maintain some shape, making it easier for it to support the weight of a person.
If none of these ideas appeal to you, you can always add your used nut shells to your compost heap, rather than throwing them away. Remember to rinse off any salt which can contaminate soil and kill plants. Nut shells are hard and could take years to fully break down, but mix well into your compost heap and you’ll find they eventually re pay you by contributing to a fine mix of nutrient-rich compost to use around the garden.
The unique shape and texture of nut shells makes them popular with artists and craftsmen. If you don’t feel like using them for your own creative ideas, there are plenty of people out there who would gladly take them off your hands to use in their own projects. If you’ve managed to collect a large amount of shells, consider donating them to local artists or art classes where they can be used as a crafting material. Artists will often appeal online for donations of materials such as nut shells, so keep your eyes peeled, you may end up helping a very worthy cause.
Image sourced: Editor at Largetagscraftsnatural materialsorganic gardeningpistachio shellsrecycling