Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pecan Bonanza

Across the back of our property are two rows of pecan trees, 18 trees in all planted by Jasper & Pearl, our next-door-neighbors who once owned this property. Some years the harvest is better than others, but this year we are having a pecan bonanza. What a year for me to vow to let no pecans go to waste! I've been considering standing at the four-way-stop down the road and handing bags to motorists. This weekend alone, I picked up 45 pounds of pecans.

The blow we got off Hurricane Ike earlier this year left countless pecans on the ground. I can't imagine the crop if those pecans had matured as well. However, my brother suggested that perhaps the pecans are larger because they were thinned somewhat. Perhaps he's right. Pearl, my 87-year-old neighbor, says her daddy always said that if it rained on June 29th, there would be no pecans. When I asked her if that was true, she said yes, because rain at that time of year knocks off the blooms that develop into the pecans.

My mother always let the pecans "dry" in shallow pans before storing them. I set out to find out if that was indeed necessary. According to a website from the Agriculture Department at LSU, pecans should be air-dried in shallow containers for two weeks before storing them, unshelled, in bags. Love will be so glad that I actually explain why we have endless flats of pecans sitting around, instead of just saying, "Well, that's what Mother always did...."

And just what are we doing with all these pecans? I've invited friends to come pick up pecans. I've given pecans to friends and neighbors. We hauled pecans south at Thanksgiving. We've been toasting them and taking them in our school & work lunches as snacks. Today I made praline syrup. I was a bit disappointed that I got only 3 8-oz jars from the batch, but I plan to make more. I also made caramel popcorn with pecans. We plan to work on perfecting a "millionaire" candy, and, of course, we'll make pralines. My brother in Texas has requested I save some in the shells for him; he says the pecan crop there is short this year. I'm picking up pecans in my dreams these days....

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