It is hard to believe Spring is finally here! As always things are always busy in the pecan orchard. The pecan trees are have been pushing noticeable leaf growth out daily. Male catkins are showing up from top to bottom of each tree. Catkins release pollen when mature. Female flowers will be showing up soon. We will monitor female flowers closely as the amount of female flowers can be a good indication as to a heavy crop, light crop or NO crop of pecans for this season. Mark has planted most of our 2 year old pecan trees – we try and replant anywhere from 75 to 125 trees each year. We lose some trees from year to year due to wind damage, disease, and lightning. Some of our trees are slowly dying from damage from back to back hurricanes – Rita and Ike. All for now – gotta ride my horse under the pecan trees – I so love this Nut Farm!
Make sure you place your order for our delicious gourmet fresh Louisiana pecans today to have them shipped by Christmas. The last day to place your orders to receive them by Christmas is December 15th.
This year has been very busy here at Natchitoches Pecans and we love all the amazing feedback from you all. Please visit our website to buy our fresh pecans online today!
All about the pecan meat
The Pecan Harvest
Reposted from About.com
The pecan nut grows in clusters of four on the tree. The edible nut is surrounded by a tough husk. When the nuts mature, the husk splits open to release the nuts which are encased in smooth, brown oblong shells.
The nuts are harvested by shaking the tree and gathering the fallen nuts from the ground. The unshelled nuts, ranging in size from 1 to 1-1/2 inches, are generally then washed, lightly sanded, and polished before commercial sale.
Some are dyed red as a sales tactic to give them eye appeal, although in today’s health-conscious society, dying of the shells has fallen out of favor.
Although not nearly as hard as the walnut shell, the pecan shell must be cracked with some forceful assistance, usually a nutcracker. The bare hand is generally not strong enough.
Inside the the protective shell, is a two-lobed seed with a smooth, very thin, brown edible skin. The halves are separated by a dark brown bark-like sheath which must be removed. Some slightly immature nutmeats may also have a bit of what looks like fine brown fuzz which should be removed by wiping or brushing as it lends a bitter flavor.
Premium pecan halves are commercially-sold by size, much like shrimp. The larger the pecan half, the fewer there are in a pound. Here are the categories:
Pecan Sizes (halves per pound)
• Mammoth = 200-250 halves
• Junior mammoth = 251-300 halves
• Jumbo = 301-350 halves
• Extra-large = 351-450 halves
• Large = 451-550 halves
• Medium = 551-650 halves
• Topper = 651-750 halves
• Small topper = 751 and up
Pecans come in the following grades:
• Fancy – Golden color, no defects
• Choice – Darker than fancy, no defects
• Standard – Harvested green (fuzzy kernels), mottled color, shriveled ends, etc.
• Damaged – Broken or cracked kernels
If you need chopped nuts or pieces for a recipe, there is no need to spend the extra money to buy fancy or choice grades. Those nuts sold as chopped or pieces are just broken pieces of usually a mixture of fancy and choice grades. Standard grade is generally used for commercial applications.
Natchitoches Pecans’ crew is working fast and furious harvesting our new crop fresh pecans. We are in peak harvest season. This is the time of year when fresh pecans are in high demand for all the holiday cooking that is just ahead. Pecan pie, pecan pralines, chocolate covered pecans, cinnamon pecans, pecan logs, roasted pecans, divinity…these are just a small sampling of what fresh pecans go in for delicious treats to be shared by all. The pecan crackers run most all day to keep up with our orders coming in via phone, mail or walk in retail customers. There is no rest this time of year and we tell all that come in the NUTHOUSE – “We grow nuts, spray the nuts, pick the nuts, clean the nuts, bag the nuts, crack the nuts, shell the nuts, eat the nuts, cook with the nuts, heck we are all just really nutty!” Pecans make the perfect gift anytime of the year but are especially great for holiday giving. Please get your order in early to assure timely delivery. Visit our website www.natchitochespecans.com and order your fresh pecan gifts today! All for now…gotta go bag some more pecans.
Pecan harvest of new crop pecans is in full swing here at the Natchitoches Pecans orchard. The days are not near long enough to get everything done that needs to be done! Early to rise and late to retire is the norm around here this time of year. Quality this year looks very good. The nut meats are full and plump. This will make for very tasty pecan pies and pecan candy. Our retail store is full of fresh pecans, In Shell or cracked pecans, gourmet flavored pecans, pecan pralines, pecan brittle, glazed pecans, pecan gift tins, shelled pecan halves, pecan pieces, pecan meal, and pecan oil. Choices of pralines may be either creamy praline or chewy praline. Not only can our customers get their fresh pecans for their holiday baking, they can also shop our store for one of a kind unique gifts. We are running a promotion for a $250 pecan shopping spree with the winner to be drawn Nov 1 . You can go to our Facebook page and like us to be entered for the drawing. All for now – gotta go to the “Nuthouse”!!!
This article is a reprint from the LSU Ag department website.
Louisiana is fortunate in that it has a good-tasting, healthful treat that literally falls out of trees. Pecans are found in many yards, pastures, fence rows and river bottoms. Louisiana is a major producer of native pecans, and its many commercial orchards produce improved pecan varieties. Many Louisianans have the opportunity to harvest pecans from their own trees.
Pecans should be harvested soon after they fall. A lot of things can happen to pecans on the ground. Loss from wet weather and hurricanes can be a serious problem. Wet pecans can deteriorate rapidly on the ground if the weather remains warm. Hurricanes and floods can wash pecans away. Excessive loss to squirrels and other critters often occurs in years with light crops.
Pecans often contain excessive moisture when they first fall. The nuts should be dried before they are put in storage. Drying can usually be accomplished by placing the pecans in a shallow layer in a warm, dry area for two weeks. Adding fans and heat can speed drying.
Pecans with high moisture content (more than 6 percent) do not store well. An easy method to determine if pecans are dry enough for storage is to shell a representative sample of the pecans. Bend the kernels until they break. If they break with a sharp snap, the pecans are usually dry enough for storage. If you don’t hear a sharp snap, dry the pecans some more.
Proper storage preserves nut quality until the next pecan crop is harvested. Poor storage often leads to darkening of kernels and rancidity of the oils, destroying the natural flavor and aroma of the nuts.
Store pecans under refrigeration. Lowering the temperature extends storage life, ranging from three months at 70 degrees F to eight years at zero degrees. Nuts can be thawed and refrozen without loss of quality.
Refrigerated or frozen pecans should be placed in airtight containers. Pecan kernels readily absorb odors from other foods, resulting in off flavors. Pecans stored at room temperature for an extended period should be held in containers that are adequately ventilated. Avoid storing in plastic bags pecans that have not been dried properly.
Pecans are usually stored shelled since they take up less space and can be conveniently used straight from the freezer. Unshelled pecans can be stored for a longer period than shelled nuts. The unbroken shell protects the kernel from bruising and offers protection against oxidation and rancidity of the kernel.
It is time to start picking up those tasty pecans that are grown here in the heart of Louisiana! The 2012 pecan crop looks great. Mark had planned to start picking the Candy variety on Monday but when he went to start the pecan shaker it would not make a sound. Further investigation revealed a burned out relay switch. Got the part this am, Mark installed it right after lunch, and off he went in search of Candy trees to shake!! Pecan harvesters will be running tomorrow. Filled pecan wagons should be headed to the cleaning plant sometime Thursday. We should have new crop pecans in the pecan house by the weekend – YES!!!
Antioxidants in Pecans May Contribute to Heart Health and Disease Prevention
ScienceDaily (Feb. 28, 2011) — A new research study from Loma Linda University (LLU) demonstrates that naturally occurring antioxidants in pecans may help contribute to heart health and disease prevention; the results were published in the January 2011 issue of The Journal of Nutrition.
Pecans contain different forms of the antioxidant vitamin E — known as tocopherols, plus numerous phenolic substances, many of them with antioxidant abilities. The nuts are especially rich in one form of vitamin E called gamma-tocopherols. The findings illustrate that after eating pecans, gamma-tocopherol levels in the body doubled and unhealthy oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood decreased by as much as 33 percent. Oxidized LDLs may further contribute to inflammation in the arteries and place people at greater risk of cardiovascular problems.
“Our tests show that eating pecans increases the amount of healthy antioxidants in the body,” says LLU researcher Ella Haddad, DrPH, associate professor in the School of Public Health department of nutrition. “This protective effect is important in helping to prevent development of various diseases such as cancer and heart disease.”
These findings are from a research project designed to further evaluate the health benefits of pecans, according to Dr. Haddad. She analyzed biomarkers in blood and urine samples from study participants (a total of 16 men and women between the ages 23 and 44) who ate a sequence of three diets composed of whole pecans, pecans blended with water, or a control meal of equivalent nutrient composition. The pecan meals contained about three ounces of the nut. Samples were taken prior to meals and at intervals up to 24 hours after eating.
Following the test meals composed of whole pecans and blended pecans, researchers found that amounts of gamma-tocopherols (vitamin E) in the body doubled eight hours after both meals, and oxygen radical absorbance capabilities (ORAC — a scientific method for measuring antioxidant power in the blood) increased 12 and 10 percent respectively two hours after the meals. In addition, following the whole-pecan meal, oxidized LDL cholesterol decreased by 30 percent (after 2 hours), 33 percent (after 3 hours), and 26 percent (after 8 hours).
“This study is another piece of evidence that pecans are a healthy food,” says Dr. Haddad. “Previous research has shown that pecans contain antioxidant factors. Our study shows these antioxidants are indeed absorbed in the body and provide a protective effect against diseases.”
Research from Loma Linda University published earlier in theJournal of Nutrition showed that a pecan-enriched diet lowered levels of LDL cholesterol by 16.5 percent — more than twice the American Heart Association’s Step I diet, which was used as the control diet in that study. Similarly, the pecan-enriched diet lowered total cholesterol levels by 11.3 percent (also twice as much as the Step I diet).
Story from http://www.llu.edu/
Family-run Natchitoches Pecans welcomes growers from Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, and performs demo of its cutting-edge pecan-sorting processes.
Natchitoches Pecans, Inc. recently participated in the Tri-State Pecan Convention & Trade Show, an annual meeting for pecan growers from Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana—and this year, the family owned and operated company hosted part of the show at its own orchard.
Growers come to this yearly convention for recommendations about fertilization, information on new products, and advice about what to look out for in the coming year. One of its features this year was a demonstration at the Natchitoches Pecans orchard, which utilizes a new machine from Savage Equipment that sorts in-shell pecans by color, automatically picking out the bad ones.
“One of the biggest attractions of the Tri-State Pecan Show is that it gives you an opportunity to see a different operation, and to get a different perspective on how to problem-solve and work through the issues you encounter as a pecan grower,” said Natchitoches Pecans co-owner Julie Swanson. “The sorting machinery we’ve implemented at our orchard has really improved our efficiency, so we were thrilled to get a chance to show other growers how it works.”
One hundred and sixty growers—the majority of the trade show’s attendees—attended the demonstration, which was followed by a catered barbecue lunch served in Natchitoches Pecans’ orchard.
The two-day show concluded the next day with the release of 2012’s first Pecan Crop estimate. Based on Tri-State Grower member input, the projection for the year is 265 million pounds—a number considered encouraging by experts, in view of the drought experienced by growers in the region last year.
Swanson was cheerful about Natchitoches Pecans’ prospects for the year. “We’ve had good pollination, and we’re happy with how things are shaping up this season,” she said. “So far so good!”
ABOUT NATCHITOCHES PECANS, INC.
Established in 1987, Natchitoches Pecans, Inc. is a family owned and operated pecan orchard. Mark Swanson sees to the everyday operations, his wife, Julie, takes care of Little Eva’s Pecan Store and the Internet and mail-order business, and their mothers, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews all help wherever needed. Natchitoches Pecans is proud to provide high-quality, gourmet Louisiana pecans for all of its customers. For more information, or to place an order online, visit www.natchitochespecans.com.
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