Introduction to Pecans
Pecans are immediately associated to nuts and is quite familiar with the sweet pie recipe named pecan pie. Pecan has quite some history, especially in the state of Texas long ago. American Indians built their very lives and nomadic existence around the pecan trees and this life-sustaining nut. Archaeologists have shown a major concentration of Indian campsites in the immediate areas of the heaviest native pecan stands. Pecan was one of the main food sources of Indians in the western civilization earlier back then, owing to the fact that foods sources in early times was a rare but necessary need for early inhabitants.
It was believed that the Indians came in great numbers and concentrated in the river valleys in the fall to harvest pecans. Hunting and all other activities took place from their pecan valley headquarters. Further, Indians also depended on the pecan as their major food resource back then.
While Pecans have made their niche as being famous for pecan pies as earlier stated, other recipes that were developed are also known today. Such include sugared pecans or double dipped in chocolate pecans. These latter recipes are usually served with other common snacks for common occasions and actually serve as replacements for nuts in some baked goodies, or as alternatives in the usual cookie jars that most people store in homes for offering to guests and visitors.
A Brief History of Pecans
Pecan trees have had a long colorful history as far as cultivation is concerned. The pecan was also one of the better known parts of the diets that early Native Americans look towards to in the early days. To this day, a number of pecan trees have been carefully cultivated and kept to answer to the growing demand and needs of people who lean towards pecan as their main source of baked goodies and dietary aids today. Today pecan trees are significantly harvested in the known parts of New Mexico, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, and Texas, where the pecan tree is the official state tree.
Pecans can be encountered in different ways and packaging. They are usually seen vacuum-packed and placed in jars, tightly sealed in plastic bags, or magnificently packed in colorful canned packaging. For the freshest and most flavorful pecans, it is best to look for whole ones in a shell. Usually, nuts are heavy for their size will not rattle when shaken. Shelled pecans, on the other hand, absorb odors and turn rancid quickly, and should be stored in the refrigerators. Overstocking of pecans should be properly stored areas for proper retaining of their quality. It is advisable to store them in refrigerators inside well preserved vacuum bags to retain freshness as well. For natural room temperature storage, pecans can be stored for a maximum of 3 months.
Known Recipes Using Pecans
Pecans are most popular in desserts such as pies, cookies, and candies, but are also sometimes made to go with special salads, stuffing’s, and other specialized main courses or side dishes. Individually, paired with some other concoctions such as chocolate or honey drizzles, they offer another form of individual consumption for most food lovers.
It can be noticed that such recipes seem to contain more of a fattening recipe finish, but pecans are widely known for diets, especially for people who have a strong longing for sweets. Despite high fat contents, pecans are known to provide other sources of nutrients that include potassium, zinc, magnesium and copper among others. So outside the usually immediate knowledge of providing negative implications of consumption for pecans, the nutritional benefits and advantages of pairing this with such known diets have their own good and uses.
Dimensions of a Pecan
The common shapes of pecan nuts are variable to the human eye and may come in different shapes and sizes. Some are usually oval shaped or long or even skinny. With regards to size of the pecan itself, the nuts can come in the form or size of a pencil eraser or as large as 1.5 inches in diameter.
The shells of a pecan is a key characteristic in determining the value of pecans overall. A Papershell pecan’ refers to the thinness that allows the nuts to be placed in the fist which can be easily cracked, usually producing perfect halves. This thinness of the shell occurs rarely in extreme cases. A disadvantage of this extreme thinness can occur when uncontrollable nature events such as hurricanes come up from the Gulf causing long rainy seasons. The kernels swell internally and the shells crack on the tree, providing an entry point for disease that can lead to damage on crops. Some years hurricanes have struck crops in September, before kernels of nuts have reached full maturity and immature nuts covered by green shucks were blown onto the ground, sometimes creating a layer several inches thick. These nuts are not worth saving, unless they fully mature on the pecan tree to the point beyond the shucks turning a deep brown or black color.
The various diseases that pecans have been exposed and contracted to over the years have caused a large number of withdrawals of many of the original cultivars from the market. This infection causes black spots to appear on the leaves that can spread to the hulls of the nuts, and later in the growing season can cause the premature blackening and drop of the nuts. Sometimes whole crops of nuts can be affected or lost during rainy summers and hurricane season unless the trees are sprayed often. Some insects can damage the quality of ripening nuts or even cause premature dropping although many harvesters control all problems of pecan trees by periodic spraying and weed control.
Nutritional Content and Health Benefits of Pecans
Pecans are known to be composed of different nutritional ingredients, more so a high composition of Vitamin A that protects teeth, eyes, and bones, as well as the overall health of anybody. Since its inception as a key component in health diets and intake, it is not surprising to note that the demand and preference of most people to resort to pecans has been astounding. Pecans offer a delicious, healthy nut to world markets with profitable financial rewards to those who choose to plant and market the product.