Preparing for Pecan Harvest

In just a short few weeks pecan harvest will begin at Little Eva Plantation.  There are many tasks to be completed prior to the familiar site of our orange Savage pecan harvesters circling around and under the pecan trees.

Picking pecans with pecan harvester.

Picking pecans with pecan harvester.

Our workers are continually picking up limbs throughout the growing season and taking them to what we call “master piles”.  At the beginning of each growing season,  we try and locate an empty area to start a limb pile as we know that this pile will continue to enlarge as limbs that have fell from wind damage, lightning, or pruning practices are added to it throughout the spring and summer months.

"Master" pile of pecan limbs

“Master” pile of pecan limbs

These piles will be burned after the harvesting is done and after the trees have shed all their leaves from fall frosts.  If the piles were burned before the trees have lost their leaves, it would be a high probability that the heat from the burning limb piles could damage the leaves of the surrounding trees.  It is important to maintain healthy foliage well into fall as the trees are storing energy for the next years pecan crop.

After the large limbs are moved, a limb rake is pulled up each row of trees to gather up small limbs and debris.  Guess this is like “sweeping” the floor – the orchard floor.  This completed brings on the mowing with the bush hog.  Once bush hogging is finished the orchard floor looks perfectly clean, neat, and tidy.

Now it’s time for the pecan harvesting equipment to be inspected and serviced so as to try and prevent unnecessary breakdowns as it is very critical that harvest be completed as quickly as possible.  The tractors, pecan harvesters, and the pecan shaker are gone over with a fine tooth comb.  Tires are checked on the pecan wagons and any dry rotted or flat tires are replaced or repaired.

Pecan Shaker maintenance

Pecan Shaker maintenance

Pecan wagon loaded

Pecan wagon loaded

 

On to the warehouse to check out all the dump pits, elevators, dirt machine, stick machine, various electric motors, air compressors, the Savage In-Shell sorter, pecan cracker, and pecan sheller.  As one can see it is much preparation that goes into getting prepared for each year’s pecan harvest.

 

Famous Pecan Pie

Why is this a famous pecan pie?  The name “famous” for this pecan pie is named such as this was a recipe from Lindy Boggs.  Today is the two year anniversary of Lindy’s death.  In 1976 Mrs Boggs became the first woman to preside over a Democratic National Convention.  Three years earlier, she had become the first woman from Louisiana elected to the House.  Lindy succeeded her husband in the House of Representatives after he was killed in a plane crash.  Lindy Boggs went on to serve nine terms on Capitol Hill, notably as a champion of women’s rights.  She died July 27, 2013 at the age of 97.

Ingredients

2 frozen pie crusts

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup white Karo syrup

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch each cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt

2 cups shelled pecans

Directions

Take crusts from freezer while preparing other ingredients.  When thawed prick edges and bottom.  Brush with butter.

Slightly beat eggs.  Stir in sugar, butter, white syrup, pinch of salt.  Beat.  Add vanilla, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon.  Gently stir in pecans.  Place in pie shells.

Bake in 350°F oven for 40 to 50 minutes. (Second pie can be frozen if you need only one pie.)  Yield: 12-16 servings.

Famous Pecan Pie - Absolutely delicious!

Famous Pecan Pie – Absolutely delicious!

 

 

Annual Pecan Conference Held

The annual Tri-State Pecan Conference was held in Natchez, Mississippi in mid June.  Growers from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi kicked off the meeting with an orchard tour of The Company Farm pecan orchard located in Baskin, Louisiana.  This farm is a square mile or 640 acres, and is being managed by Tom Childress.  Childress talked about his management practices for the orchard, the current varieties that are in the orchard, and the future goal of starting a hedging regime.  He says that the number one benefit, for him, is that hedging helps him achieve a more effective spray program.  Childress says he is trying to choose and plant the right pecan varieties to control problems, such as scab, because you “can’t spray your way out of a problem, you have to plant your way out.”

Lunch was provided in the orchard and then the group headed back to Natchez for business meetings and an evening reception.  The second day consisted of educational seminars and the always much anticipated pecan guesstimate of the season from Ben Littlepage.  He estimated that the U.S. crop would total 283 million pounds.  Below is a state by state estimated prediction:

Alabama………………..19 million

Arizona………………….25 million

Arkansas………………… 1 million

California………………..  6 million

 Florida…………………….0.5 million

Georgia…………………80.0 million

Kansas……………..0.5 million

Louisiana…………………4 million

Mississippi…………….. 1 million

New Mexico…………..70 million

N. Carolina…………..0.5 million

Oklahoma…………….35 million

S. Carolina…………..0.5 million

Texas…………………. 40 million

Tips For Baking Pecan Pie

Pecan pie is considered a staple at holiday meals in the South.  This irresistible amazing tasty pie is even found in lyrics of the song “Chicken Fried” by the famous Southern band – The Zac Brown Band –

Beneath the shade of a Georgia pine
And that’s home you know
Sweet tea, pecan pie and homemade wine
Where the peaches grow

There are numerous pecan pie recipes all across the web.  Simply browse and choose one to your liking.  Below are tips to follow that will enable you to create an awesome pecan pie –

  • Mind your eggs.  Extra large eggs tend to be too much for pecan pie, and medium just isn’t enough.  Opt for large eggs.
  • Coat your measuring cup with oil, or spritz with non-stick cooking spray before measuring your corn syrup.
  • Cut calories by substituting a reduced calorie corn syrup, such as Karo’s Lite corn syrup instead of the regular kind.
  • Toast the pecans for enhanced flavor and only use fresh pecans.
  • Don’t use a blender or a mixer.  Use a whisk and a wooden spoon.  Hand mix only – and don’t beat it to death!  Many pecan pies end up runny due to over-beating.
  • Shield edges of pie with foil about halfway through cooking time to prevent over-browning.
  • Let the pie cool completely before slicing, as this will allow the filling to set completely.
  • Pie is done when a knife inserted into the center comes out fairly clean.  The filling may seem a bit jiggly as a whole, but it will continue cooking a bit even after removed from the oven  – so you don’t want to overcook it.
Pecan Pie - Oh how delicious!

Pecan Pie – Oh how delicious!

 

 

 

Greatest Dad Give Away – Rules

Here are the rules for the Greatest Dad Give Away contest for 2015.

  • Contest runs May 27, 2015 through June 18, 2015
  • All submission become property of Natchitoches Pecans.
  • Natchitoches Pecans reserves the right to edit and/or reject any submission in whole or in part.
  • Contestants must be 18 years or older to participate.
  • Natchitoches Pecans will select a winner and post on the Natchitoches Pecans facebook page on June 19, 2015 at 8pm.
  • All decisions are final at the sole discretion of Natchitoches Pecans.
  • This contest and/or rules can be changed without notice to the public.
  • Natchitoches Pecans reserves the right to cancel this contest without notice to the public.

Roasted Or Toasted Pecans

Roasted pecans add flavor and crunch.
Toasted pecans add flavor and crunch.

Toasted pecans add flavor and crunch.

Some pecan recipes call for roasted pecans while a different recipe may call for toasted pecans.  Roasted or toasted pecans – What is the difference?  Toasting pecans before you bake them in a recipe brings out all the best flavors of the nuts.  Applying heat releases the oils in the pecans, which in turn intensifies their flavor, adds crispness, and tones down any bitterness.  Many times pecans bought in grocery store baking sections are dark and when tasted do have a bitter taste as they may not be fancy quality or be a couple years old.  For recipes that feature nuts, toasted nuts will add a lot of flavor with just a few extra minutes of effort.  Toasted nuts can also be used to garnish desserts. And, they are great for sprinkling over ice cream or yogurt.  Even try adding toasted nuts to salads or pasta!

Follow these simple steps for perfectly toasted pecans that will bring new life to your baking recipes.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and arrange the shelled pecans in a single layer .
  3. Bake the nuts, stirring once after five minutes and then again after another five minutes during cooking for even toasting.  Smaller nuts will toast faster than larger ones so adjust cooking time accordingly.  While the nuts will become lightly browned, the best gauge for proper toasting is smell.  When the nuts have become fragrant, they are ready.
  4. Once the nuts have finished toasting, transfer then to a plate or a towel to cool.  Try to use a cooling surface large enough to allow the nuts to spread out in a single layer.  Leaving the nuts on the hot pan will cause them to continue cooking.  Allow the pecans to cool to room temperature before using them in a baking recipe.  Using nuts that are too warm can affect the dough or batter you’re making.
  5. After nuts have cooled, use them immediately in your recipe.  The flavor of toasted nuts will dissipate over time so any unused nuts can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to a week.

Now let’s turn to roasting pecans.  Roasting nuts involve the addition of an oil to them.  It may be butter, margarine, olive oil or vegetable oil.  The added oil can enable sugar, salt, and various spices to cling to the nuts for lots of different flavors.  From sweet and  salty to hot and spicy.  Check out Sugar and Spice Pecans to try for your next celebration.  I can taste them now!

Transplanting Bucket Grown Pecan Trees

This gallery contains 3 photos.

In addition to the commercial importance of pecans, pecan trees add much to the beauty of the home or farm.  Pecan trees should be planted in solid blocks for commercial production.  For home use they can be planted along borders, ditch banks, fences, or in the lawn at least forty feet from buildings. Container grown […]

All Occasion Pecan Log Recipe

Here is a simple pecan log recipe that can be used for all occasion celebrations throughout the year.  Do you remember the taste of fluffy, cherry-laced nougat rolled in fresh caramel and pecan pieces?  Mmmm… I can close my eyes and taste one now.  And it would not be a small slice of the pecan log roll as I can eat the entire roll!

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 Tbsp evaporated milk
  • 3/4 tsp rum flavoring
  • 2 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar – sifted
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped candied cherries
  • 24 – 30 caramels
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan pieces

DIRECTIONS

Combine 2 Tablespoons milk and rum flavoring in bowl; blend in confectioner’s sugar.  Knead until smooth and shiny; blend in cherries, adding additional confectioners’ sugar, if necessary.  Shape into 6-inch logs and roll in waxed paper.  Chill until firm.  Combine caramels with remaining milk; heat over boiling water until melted, stirring frequently.  Pour melted caramels  into medium bowl and  roll chilled log in caramel mixture to coat evenly and then quickly roll caramel coated log over the pecan pieces.  Roll in waxed paper and chill until firm.

 

Fluffy cherry laced pecan log roll.

Fluffy cherry laced pecan log roll.

 

Spring Time Cream Cheese Pecan Pie Recipe

This version of the pecan pie has three delicious layers that make for a taste tantalizing experience.  Celebrate Spring time tomorrow with a delicious cream cheese pecan pie!  Try it and let us know what you thought…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups pecan pieces (chopped)
  • 1 cup light corn syrup (Karo)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten well with a fork
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar in a bowl.  Beat at high speed with an electric mixer until fluffy.  Add 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Blend well.  Pour into the pie shell.  Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the cream cheese mixture.

Combine the corn syrup, 1/4 cup sugar, 3 beaten eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Carefully pour mixture over the pecan layer. Bake at 375°F for 35 to 40 minutes or until set. Allow to cool completely, then refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Spring Time Cream Cheese Pecan Pie Recipe

Spring Time Cream Cheese Pecan Pie Recipe

 

Easter Cocoa Spiced Pecans

Because of the many days of cloudy wet weather that has held me hostage inside my house instead of out in the pecan orchard, I find myself searching cookbooks for unusual pecan recipes to try for our family’s upcoming Easter celebration.  I ran across one for Cocoa Spiced Pecans that I felt worthy of sharing.

 

COCOA SPICED PECANS

Ingredients

Parchment paper or nonstick cooking spray

1 large egg white

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon Baking Cocoa

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 cups pecan halves

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together the egg white, sugar, salt, cinnamon and cayenne pepper in bowl.  Stir in the pecans and stir until completely coated.  Pour the pecans onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer.

Bake for 20 minutes and remove from oven.  Stir to separate the pecans.  Reduce oven temperature to 250 degrees F and continue to bake for 15 minutes.  Cool completely on baking sheet and then break into pieces.  Store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

These can be sprinkled over your favorite salad greens.  Cut up a few strawberries and or blueberries to add color and “Voila” – enjoy!

COCOA SPICED PECANS

COCOA SPICED PECANS