October, 2011 – Fairhope, Alabama – Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut

Posted on November 18, 2011

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Sometimes you just feel like a nut.

And when you do, there’s nothing like a pecan.

Way back in the dark ages when I was a child, pecans were a slightly-foreign nut seldom seen other than at Christmas time.

Even after the big box stores made them more available up north, I still didn’t give them much thought.

However, now that we call LA our winter home, we’ve discovered pecans. And, we’ve discovered how much we didn’t know about this great little nut.  Of course they make into a killer pie, but who knew there were  48 different varieties?

Who knew pecan oil is great for cooking, with less saturated fat than olive oil?  Who knew they were actually good for you?

Pecans have been grown commercially in LA since the early twentieth century.  Alabama is one of 15 states that produce them commercially, and has approximately 22,000 acres of pecan orchards.  That’s only a tiny dot in the whole pecan picture, with Alabama producing only about 6.8 million pounds of the 220 million produced annually in this country.

LA has lost many of their orchards to the ever-growing crop of housing developments, but there’s still enough around to get the opportunity to experience the harvest, which begins toward the end of October.

It’s a fairly simple affair.  When the pecan hulls split open, they’re ready.  Mechanical tree shakers jiggle the nuts off the tree – and usually out of their hulls.  They are blown far enough away from the tree so they can be vacuumed up, then are graded and shipped.

Because many homeowners have pecan trees in their yards, two companies in the area offer cracking services to make home harvest easier.  People back their cars up to the docks, unload a bag or two of nuts, get them cracked and then take them back home to pick out the meats.

Then they make a PIE!

 

 

 

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Posted in: Travel - Alabama