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Friday, November 12, 2010

It’s a Pecan Cracker

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Couldn’t fool many folks, yesterday’s “What is This?” was a Nut Cracker – Duke’s Easy Pecan and Nut model. pecan sheller (6)

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 . . .

pecan tree (1)And, it was a very useful gift because that year our neighbor’s pecan tree was overflowing. We harvested and shelled many pounds of pecans and used them for baking, snacks, cooking and as give-aways.

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!

pecans picked (4)

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.

pecans in tree (4)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.

pecans in tree (1)

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.

13 comments:

AC said...

Will you be sending pecan pie to your legion of followers? Yum.

Lois Evensen said...

Ah, yes, pecans. Just love them combined with butter and made into ice cream. :) Butter Pecan is a favorite.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

Pecans are not fun to crack but it appears you have the appropriate utensil! Pecan pie is a favorite of the other half in this house during this season....just today I bought some pecan turtles from an Amish woman in celebration of my birthday tomorrow. One of my favorites and something I'v enot made for a while. I don't think I have ever seen a pecan tree and our next trip south I will have to look for one!

Montanagirl said...

I use chopped pecans a lot in recipes. Prefer them over Walnuts. My family is mainly allergic to Walnuts.

thecottagebythecranelakeolof1 said...

I love pecans and would love to have a tree here, but I think they only can grow along the coastline in southern Sweden. It´s not easy to get those nuts here either, mostly they come in mixed nut packages and only God knows how old they are then :-) :-) We can buy them shelled to, but the prize is ridicules.

Have a great day!
Christer.

Elaine said...

Pecans are a favorite of mine. Sadly no nut-producing trees grow here so I have to buy what we use. Thanks for all the interesting facts about pecans.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hi everyone - seems we are all fans of pecans and we have enough to share for cracking, so anyone who want to come here is welcome! Grenville told me there's more harvesting to be done this season.

Sorry AC, the pie would not travel well - we took a couple to GA last year; while still good they need to be kept chilled. You and Cuppa are welcome to enjoy here - just let us know in advance.

Lois, why doesn't it surprise me that you would also make ice cream!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Pat. Hope you enjoy your treat. Before we moved to VA from NJ I had never seen a pecan tree and if not for the pecans found beneath my feet while walking, I would not have known where to find them ,yself. Thanks for the visit.

Mona, we hardly ever use walnuts, except sometimes in chocolate chips or brownies. The pecans are a great substitute.

Hi Christer, I think you may be right in that pecan trees grow in warmer temps and maybe it is warmer along the Swedish coastline. We can buy pecans shelled in bags, but as long as we shell our own there's no need to spend the money and they are more costly than most other nuts - agreed it is ridiculous.

Hi Elaine, We like pecans a lot too since living here, but oddly never had or bought them in our former home state. I learned lots of things about them myself in doing the post.

grammie g said...

Hi Beatrice...This is a real "crack up" of a post!
I thought it might be a nut cracker of sorts but wasn't sure how it would work!!
Thanks for the tutorial o the pecan...I want pecan pie now. Yum Yum!!

HermitJim said...

Here in Texas, pecan trees seem to grow everywhere! As kids, we used to pick them up off the ground and crack and eat them all the time...

Just always remember having them around and figured that everyone did! You know how kids are...!

The Gingerbread House said...

Wish I lived closer to you!I would releive you of harvesting some Pecans. It was our first plan to retire to Virginia, However, since our daughter was in NC we decided to move here...Since then their was a job change and we are here alone...I'd like to move but we don't want the hassle..That was a nice gift from hubby.a nut cracker that works, would it work on those hard Walnuts? Ginny

Country Mouse Studio said...

Love Pecans very informative post, thanks

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Hi Grammie G, if we could return to Maine, I';m sure Grenville would like to bring you a piece of pecan pie. This cracker really works and is sort of like using a shell loader I'm told.

Hey HermitJim, guess you did have a lot of pecans in Texas with its being the state tree. Do you still find many around? They are tough to crack even with a nut cracker so I would not do them by hand myself, but then kids do lots of things adults wouldn't!

Hi Ginny, if you lived closer to us on the VA eastern shore then you would be more than welcome to come and get some pecans, but you would need to do the shelling on those :-) I don't know if this cracker would work on walnuts - not the store bought kind, but the wild ones. I know it would do a job on store-bought ones.

Hi Country Mouse (Ann) we sure do love them too and have more than enough to shell this year after a barren spell last year. We expect to be doing a lot of baking and cooking with these.

ezpie said...

There is a nut cracker that is easier to use at http://nutcrackertool.com

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