Louisiana Pecans

Cathy Agan  |  10/1/2013 12:45:00 AM

Louisiana pecans are a tasty treat that will be literally falling from trees. Since pecans are a seasonal crop, you will want to store plenty for use year round. Pecans should be handled properly to ensure their flavor and quality last until the next season.

If you have pecan trees, harvest the nuts soon after they fall in order to prevent squirrels and other animals from depleting your harvest. Wet weather can cause wet pecans to deteriorate rapidly on the ground.

Pecans often contain excessive moisture when they first fall. Therefore, the nuts should be dried before they are put in storage. You can do this by placing the pecans in a shallow layer in a warm, dry room for about two weeks. To speed drying, add fans and heat. To determine if pecans are dry enough for storage, shell a small sample and bend the kernels until they break. If they break with a sharp snap, they are usually dry enough for storage. If you don’t hear a sharp snap, dry the pecans some more. Test the pecans as soon as they are shelled since they can dry quickly after shelling.

After they are dry, pecans should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer in airtight containers to extend their storage life. Shelled pecans can be stored from three months at 70 degrees F to up to eight years at zero degrees F. They can be thawed and refrozen without loss of quality. Pecans are usually stored shelled since they take up less space and can be used more conveniently. However, unshelled pecans can be stored three to six months longer than shelled nuts depending on the temperature. Pecans stored at room temperature should be kept in containers that are adequately ventilated. Be sure to keep them in a cool, dry, dark place once they are dry. Don’t store pecans in plastic bags if they have not been dried properly.

Pecans are a nutritious treat that contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals. They are antioxidant rich, cholesterol lowering, and heart healthy. Pecans are also high in protein and fiber while being low in carbohydrates and sodium-free. A 1-ounce serving of pecans (about 18 to 20 halves) contains 200 calories and 2.7 grams of fiber.

Average Shelf Life of Pecans

Storage Temperature

Unshelled

Shelled

70°F

6 months

3 to 4 months

45°F

9 months

6 months

32°F

18 months

12 months

20°F

30 months

18 months

0°F

6 to 8 years

6 to 8 years

Apple Coffee Cake

Yield: 20 servings

Ingredients:
5 cups apple (tart, cored, peeled, and chopped)
1 cup sugar
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecans (chopped)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg (beaten)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon (ground)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 13- by 9- by 2-inch pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine apples with sugar, raisins, and pecans; mix well. Let stand 30 minutes. Stir in oil, vanilla, and egg. Sift together flour, soda, and cinnamon; stir into apple mixture about 1/3 at a time, just enough to moisten dry ingredients. Turn batter into pan. Bake 35-40 minutes. Cool cake slightly before serving.

Source: US Department of Health and Human Services, A Healthier You

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