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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pecans from Illinois

 Today I am picking the nutmeats out of cracked pecans so I thought that would be a good blog topic. 
Carya Illinoiensis or Pecan is native to the Mississippi River Valley and other habitats habitats in the south and midwest. Click on the link for more information.   My home farm in the Mississippi River Valley in Monroe County Illinois has over 50 pecan trees.  Some of them are native and some are cultivated varieties.  My grandfather enjoyed working with pecan trees and grafted around 40 of them with various cultivars.  Our favorite is Posey.  We have one high yielding tree, probably one of the first ones Grandpa grafted that yields a huge number of pecans. We do have several other Posey's on the farm as well as other varieties.   Posey has a relatively thin shell and a large nutmeat.  Texas is one of the leading producers of pecans and they have this list of varieties.  This Link contains advice from Missouri on suitable varieties.  Kanza and Pawnee are two varieties  that I know are grown in our area.  On our farm, because the operation is small it has been mostly a hand operation.  Pecans usually start dropping in early October and continue to drop until well after Thanksgiving.  We have to share with the squirrels and crows, and it seems we have higher yields every other year.  One year my Dad picked up over 900 pounds.  This year he has picked up well over 200 pounds and others have gotten a share as well.  Our take so far was 51 pounds.  It is a lot of work to hand crack them,  but some commercial growers provide custom cracking for 30 to 40 cents per pound.  My wife took our pecans to  Voss Pecans near Carlyle for cracking.  Grandpa hand cracked the pecans when he was living, using a cracker similar to the one below.  We had mostly smaller native varieties in our collection this year.  The natives do not yield quite as much nutmeat, but hey are very tasty. 

Some of the pecans we picked up

A hand nutcracker.

Cracked pecans that I am picking out.
I like to use the stainless steel bowl because when the pecan its it, some of the pithy stuff in the creases of the nut pops loose. For more expert information, check out this blog. 

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