This was a 2008 Christmas gift from my true love, Grenville. I told him the 5 golden rings would have been a nice touch too. But thankful he didn’t bring home a partridge in a pear tree, cows, pipers, dancing ladies, milking maids . . .
Last year, the pecan tree didn’t produce well so the nut cracker was retired to the pantry. It was so well retired, we almost didn’t find (don’t you hate when that happens?) And, the tree is producing well again this year so we’re shelling LOTS of pecans. This is another “present” that Grenvillle brought me last week. Yes, I know, he’s a real sweetie and he does help shell them too. Maybe I’ll have to get him his very own cracker this holiday!
Growing up in NJ, we didn’t have pecan trees in the neighborhood. Here on the VA eastern shore, there seems to be at least one pecan tree every couple of blocks. You don’t even have to look up, but just check out all those lying on the ground. It seems that most folks don’t harvest them – maybe because it is time consuming. But having fresh pecans in the freezer is well worth the manual labor not to mention a real money saver – we don’t buy shelled nuts. This year’s harvest will be frozen and could last until the next good season. Unless, of course, Grenville gets in a pecan pie baking mood.
Some Facts About Pecans
The name “pecan” is a Native American word of Algonquin origin that was used to describe “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.”
The pecan tree is the only major tree nut that grows naturally in North America, the pecan is considered one of the most valuable North American nut species.
Pecan trees are members of the hickory genus and a pecan is not really a nut, but technically a drupe – a fruit with a single stone or pit, surrounded by a husk. The husks are produced from the exocarp tissue of the flower while the part known as the nut develops from the endocarp and contains the seed.
Pecan nuts have a rich, buttery flavor; they can be eaten fresh or used in cooking, particularly in a southern favorite, pecan pie. Pecans are also a major ingredient in praline candy.
Pecan wood is used in making furniture, in wood flooring, and as a flavoring fuel for smoking meats.
Pecan trees may live and bear edible nuts for more than three hundred years.
The pecan is the Texas state tree.
Pecans retain their freshness, flavor, and nutrients when stored in an airtight container or freezer bags; storing them at room temperature is not recommended.
Pecans contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals.
Pecans are a natural, high quality source of protein with few carbohydrates, no cholesterol and are sodium free.
Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that pecans rank highest among all nuts and are among the top category of foods to contain the highest antioxidant capacity. This means that pecans may decrease the risk of cancer, coronary heart disease, and neurological disease like Alzheimer's.
And we thought they just tasted delicious.
There’s lots more information on pecans available at the National Pecan Shellers Association website.