Pecans: Everything You Need to Know
Your Guide to the Origins, Benefits, and Uses of Pecans
If you’re from the southern region of the United States, when you hear pecan, you probably think of Georgia and sticky, super-sweet pecan pie. In the South, we like it so sweet that when your server brings you a slice of pie in a diner–she may even call you, “Sugar.”
Like all good nuts, pecans are much more versatile and beneficial than sugary pies might have you believe.
Origins & History of Pecans
Pecans are the only major tree nut that is native to North America. Pre-colonial residents of the continent used pecans widely. The name comes from the Algonquin word “pacane,” which describes, “nuts requiring a stone to crack.”
Pecans have a dense nutritional content and delicious taste. Original inhabitants enjoyed them in many ways, including as a fermented drink called powcohicora.
Between the late 1600s and early 1700s, Spanish colonizers cultivated pecan orchards. In 1775, George Washington planted pecan trees, followed by Thomas Jefferson in 1779. By the end of the 18th century, pecans had become increasingly popular. Naturally, people started to recognize their economic potential.
In 1822, a man from South Carolina named Abner Landrum discovered a new pecan budding technique. By placing a pecan plant in close contact with a wild plant, he was able to create a superior nut. However, this grafting technique was forgotten until 1876, when Antoine, an enslaved man in Louisiana, successfully recreated it. Antoine won the Best Pecan Exhibited award at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. His seeds were used for the first official planting of improved pecans.
The typical pecan tree grows to a height of 75 to 100 feet. Today, an irrigated, managed acre of pecan trees can produce up to 1,000 pounds of pecans.
Pecan production steadily increased in the United States, rising from 2.2 million pounds annually in 1920 to between 250 and 300 million pounds currently. The U.S remains the largest producer of pecans, with the state of Georgia leading production.
Nutrition & Health Benefits of Pecans
Raw pecans pack a hearty punch of protein, healthy fats and fiber. This combination will keep you energized and satisfied. They are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, all of which help lower blood pressure.
Most of the fat found in pecans is monounsaturated—the healthy kind of fat that lowers LDL cholesterol.
Pecans have a low glycemic index, which means they do not cause a spike in blood sugar. Additionally, eating pecans can offset the effects of higher glycemic index foods when eaten as part of the same meal. This is great news for people with diabetes.
These rich nuts also contain omega-3 fats, which can help ease the pain of arthritis by reducing inflammation. The magnesium, calcium, fiber, vitamin E and zinc in pecans give the nuts additional anti-inflammatory properties and provide immune system support.
Best Ways to Use Pecans
Pecan pie, obviously.
The sticky, sweet southern classic is probably one of the best-known ways to consume pecans. If you’re looking for something with a little less syrup, you can add pecans to any raw nut mix and crunch away. Between plain raw pecans and sticky-sweet pecan pie, there are tons of other fun ways to use pecans.
Raw pecans are delicious spiced with cinnamon, or flavored with cajun, jalapeno, mesquite, and garlic. You can turn them into brittle or toffee. Or how about smoked, honey roasted, salted, the crowd-pleasing pecan pralines? And of course, you can always just cover them with chocolate. They are delicous and versatile.
As with many nuts, pecans can be processed into a healthy gluten-free flour or into a nutty dairy-free milk. Aren’t nuts amazing?
Pecan oil is suitable for cooking and frying at high temperatures due to its high smoke point (243°C). In addition to edible applications, pecan oils are also destined for non-culinary purposes, especially in cosmetics.
Nut milks have been gaining popularity with vegans and lactose-intolerant people for years. Pecan milk isn’t as widely consumed as its counterpart, almond milk, but if you like non-dairy milk, give it a try.
You can even easily make your own! First, just soak pecans in a bowl of water for 30 minutes. For even creamier milk, soak them up to 24 hours in the fridge. Drain well, and then blend the pecans with 3 cups of fresh water and any flavors you want, like vanilla extract, maple syrup, cinnamon, and a dash of salt. Blend it smooth and toss it in the fridge for an hour so the solids can separate. Strain the solids, and enjoy your delicious pecan milk.
Pecan Producers on our Platform
Double Q Pecan Company has been farming pecans since 1919. Ten years ago, current owner Tom Cleveland saw new potential. In 2012, Double Q Pecan Company proudly became the first and only organic pecan farm in Georgia. The brand continues in their dedication to producing quality, affordable pecans while simultaneously improving the health of the trees and soil.
The buttery taste of Georgia’s pecan heritage makes its way from dusty countryside groves to the warmth of customers’ homes in each and every Double “Q” Pecan.
Rich Nuts is a brand offering a preservative-free, nutrient dense, paleo-vegan-keto-kosher snack that anyone, including hardworking firefighters like Richard Pauwels, can enjoy during their busy days.
Rich Nuts founder Richard had been needing some nutritious and satiating snacks to keep his energy up for the demanding work of firefighting. Once he learned that sprouted nuts were easier to digest, he began sprouting and sharing nuts, much to the approval of his fellow firefighters. A brand was born.
The Rich Nuts team believes that the children of our earth deserve to inherit a healthy and sustainable planet, and they work towards that end at every step of their business path, from packing and shipping to how they treat people all along the supply chain.
Pecans are one of the many great nuts out there. Check our platform, try Rick Nuts or Double Q and get satiated and filled with nutrients.
Discover more about nuts and other hearty products on our platform.
How interesting that you mention how tall a pecan tree grows. I am starting a new bakery business this year. I will also find a great source for wholesale large pecan halves in the area.
Good luck with your new bakery! Keep in touch with us and let us know how it is going. We love hearing about new businesses and initiatives.