You may have noticed pecan trees lining your neighborhood, their nuts green and almost ready to drop. Texas is the second largest producer of pecans in the country, and everyone looks forward to pecan pies in the fall. Here are some helpful tips to help you make the most of your pecan nut harvest.
Pecans begin to fall from September through November. Nut pods are green until they get ready to drop. They then turn brown and reveal the nuts we see in the stores. One of the wonderful things about harvesting pecans is that there’s no need to climb a ladder. Pecans will fall on their own, but it’s important to be quick when picking them up from the ground. Pecans that are left too long on the ground are susceptible to squirrels, mold, and sun damage. However, if the ground is dry, it will cure the pecans and make them taste better.
There are several ways to gather nuts once they’ve fallen on the ground. You can bend over and pick them up, but that can be exhausting. There are wire cages you can purchase online or at any feed store. Another way to collect nuts is to lay a tarp on the ground before you suspect your nuts will drop. Then you can just pick up the entire tarp and harvest your pecans that way.
Once you have gathered the nuts from the ground, it’s time to go through the nuts and get rid of any nuts that are bad. Look for nuts with holes in them, or listen to them when you shake them. If you hear a hard rattle inside, the nut is not good for harvest. Nuts with the green husks still on them are not good, either.
There are several methods for extracting the meat from the pecan shells. A good investment is to get a nutcracker that is specifically for cracking pecan shells. Another go to is using a hammer and a nail to crack them open, however, you aren’t as likely to get that perfect nut out of the shell.
If you have a compost pile in your yard, pecan shells are a perfect addition. They won’t harm your yard like walnut shells.
Once the nuts are shelled, store them in freezer bags in your freezer up to one whole year!