Nutty Pecan Bark Treat

Everyone should now be aware of the health benefits of adding pecans to their diet.  This pecan treat recipe was just too scrumptious so wanted to share it with everyone on our blog!

Ingredients:

1 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 package graham crackers

1 cup pecan pieces ( I prefer the large pecan pieces)

1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Melt butter.  Add sugar and boil for 2 minutes.  Line a jelly roll pan with graham crackers and pour the butter and sugar mixture over the crackers.  Spread the pecan pieces evenly over the crackers and sprinkle with the sea salt.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool and break or cut into triangles.  Mmmmm…. This pecan treat is something to really enjoy as it will not last long!  For the chocolate lover you could add a few chocolate chips over the top before baking.  Hope all enjoy!

Pecan News for July

Summertime is truly here…hot and humid!  Mark has just completed our fourth scab spray of the Natchitoches Pecans’ 2013 pecan growing season.  An insecticide was included in this fourth spray as well to control  second generation pecan casebearer moths.  There are always limbs to  picked up in a pecan orchard so our crew tidies up the orchard floor every few weeks.  Our pecan orchard has gotten a couple of nice rains the past month.  With the nuts beginning to size up the orchard will need some substantial rains in the near future to ensure big full pecans come pecan harvest time.

Mark attended the annual Tri-State Pecan Conference in Vicksburg, Mississippi in late June.  He got to catch up with his pecan buddies as well as tour Raymond Smith’s pecan orchard that is currently being leased and renovated by Bill and Matt Goff.  The meeting has always been concluded with the “Official Ben Littlepage Pecan Crop Guesstimate”.  This year’s Littlepage prediction was 222 million pounds for the United States, which would be the shortest crop since 2008.  One thing we have learned through our 28 years in this “nutty pecan business” is that a short crop tends to get shorter while a large crop tends to get bigger – Best to not count yo pecans till you get them in the sack and sold!  All for now….gotta get back to the pecan orchard to watch those nuts grow!!!

Growing Pecans in June

This pecan growing season is moving right along.  Mark has just finished applying our third scab spray.   The amount of damage caused by pecan scab varies according to each growing season and cultivar.  Pecan scab is our most costly expense during most growing seasons since our orchard is over 50% of Desirable cultivar and Desirable is not resistant to scab.  Pecan scab thrives in moist humid conditions and if not controlled both pecan yield and pecan quality are affected.  Louisiana is well known for humid conditions.  Stuart and Elliott cultivars are somewhat scab resistant which is a blessing.  New plantings of  Sumner cultivar are scab resistant also.

Within  the next couple of weeks it will be time to spray for Second Generation Pecan Casebearer…always something to monitor and do at this nut farm to bring you great quality pecans…must be why we tend to all be NUTS around here!!!

 

May In The Pecan Orchard – Pecan Casebearer Moth

The month of May is quite busy in the pecan orchard at Little Eva Plantation. Well to tell the truth – all twelve months of the year are busy! One thing so important in May is the correct timing of an insecticide spray to control the pesky pecan casebearer moth. These moths will lay eggs on the tiny pecan nutlets and when these eggs hatch one larvae can consume all of the cluster.

One casebearer larvae can destroy this entire cluster of tiny nutlets.

One casebearer larvae can destroy this entire cluster of tiny nutlets.

The moths usually start showing up in May as the weather begins warming up. Mark hangs the casebearer traps from the pecan trees in different areas of the orchard .  The traps have phermone bait in them that attract the moths. Mark monitors the traps daily and when he starts seeing the moth count start to significantly increase, he checks the weather forecast, orders the necessary chemicals, fuels up his tractor and pecan sprayer and goes to spraying. It usually takes two to three days to completely cover all the orchard. However, we have been having 10-25 mph winds on most days this May so Mark has had to spray a lot at night when the wind dies down.  A fungicide and a mixture of micro nutrients was  included in this spray too.  The fungicide will help to control scab.  The micro nutrients will be absorbed by the leaves and contribute to a healthier tree.   It is so important to take good care of the pecan trees so that the trees will produce very good quality fancy pecans that we make available on our website and at our retail store for purchase.

Spring in the Pecan Orchard

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!

Order Your Pecans For Christmas By December 15th

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!

 

Grades of Pecans and the Harvest

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.

Pecan Sizes

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

Pecan Grades

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.

Peak Season for Pecan Harvest

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.

New Crop 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”!!!

Proper Harvesting and Storage of Pecans Improves Quality

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.