Pecans, fruit of a large hickory tree native to North America, are particularly popular in the South. Though the nuts are most often associated with the traditional pecan pie, they can be used in a wide variety of recipes, from cookies and candies to main and side dishes.

The pecan was an important part of the diet of Native Americans before the arrival of the European settlers. The first successful grafts of the pecan tree were done in 1846 by a Louisiana plantation gardener, a slave named Antoine. The cultivation of the pecan tree increased, and the technique of sowing proved to be the most effective. Today the tree is most widely cultivated in the states of New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, and Texas, where the pecan tree is the official state tree.

Buying & Storing
Pecans are available in many forms; you'll find them vacuum-packed in jars, sealed in plastic bags, or packed in cans. For the freshest and most flavorful pecans, choose whole ones in the shell. When choosing whole unshelled pecans, look for nuts that are heavy for their size and don't rattle when shaken. There shouldn't be any cracks or holes in the shells.

Shelled pecans absorb odors and turn rancid quickly. Store them in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Unshelled pecans may be stored for about 3 months at room temperature.

Perfect Pecan Pie
Recipes for pecan pie are equally divided between those which call for chopped pecans and those which call for whole pecans. Whole pecans make the pie look incredibly inviting but cutting neat wedges is a challenge. One solution is to freeze the baked pie, cut it into wedges with a serrated knife and allow it to warm to serving temperature.

Really good pecan pie is rare. Often, the nuts are small and indifferent, the filling is too sweet or too skimpy. How do you make a better pecan pie? Go back to the roots: pure cane syrup, and fresh pecans. Someone once said that good baking is 'a series of little things done right.'

Pure cane syrup is the sweetener of choice for real pecan pie. This southern treat is magic.

Serving Ideas
Pecans are most popular in desserts such as pies, cookies, and candies, but also make an interesting addition to salads, stuffings, and other savory main or side dishes. They are also delicious whole, toasted and spiced, or covered with chocolate.

Pecans are a good source of potassium, thiamine, zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, niacin, folic acid, iron, and vitamin B6, and also a good source of fiber. The fats are composed of 87% unsaturated fatty acids (62% monounsaturated and 25% polyunsaturated)

Dried Oil-roasted
water 4.8 % 4%
protein 3.9 g 3.5g
fat 33.8g 35.6g
fiber 3.3 g 3.6g
per 50 grams

Only Sissies Skip Pecan Pie

The information given herein is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Cooperative Extension is implied.