Growing food at home is such a rewarding endeavor. My gardens bring me so much pleasure, and with each harvest, a grand sense of accomplishment. I’ve often said, little else brings me as much joy…
that is, except for finding a yard full of pecans after the first big windy cold front! Just laying around, waiting to be picked up and eaten. Free nuts!
I bought my house years ago, and it came with two mature pecan trees – one that produces small, thick shell pecans that aren’t worth the effort to pick up, and one that produces beautiful, big, thin shell, delicious pecans, not very often. I never know what makes that one tree produce, other than it seems really fond of a rainy Spring. Sometimes that doesn’t do it – they just don’t produce yearly. This year I picked up about 3/4 of a brown grocery bag full of pecans. I kept up with the cracking and shelling at first, then let them get away from me. In the past, I’ve taken them to the Senior Activity Center off of 29th Street, where they run them through a cracking machine, for a small fee per pound. This is helpful, but you still have to shell and clean them.
I decided to take a different route this year, and purchased a Reed’s Rocket Nutcracker, and do them myself. (My parents once had a spring loaded one, but it shot shells all over the patio.)
The Rocket adjusts to the size of the nut, then you press the lever and the nut gets squeezed until it cracks, mostly all over. Then you have to remove the shell. I tried loosening and tightening the pecan holding part, and differing amounts of pressure, and still had little luck removing intact halves from the shells. With my Virgo tendencies, believe me, I did try for perfect halves. Ultimately, for my uses, that doesn’t matter, but I wanted pretty perfect pecans.
Once finished, I ended up with two freezer quart bags of pecans!
If you know me personally, you know that I am happy to share whatever I have. But, don’t even ask. I am a homegrown pecan hoarder and you can’t have any!
Since I try to eat only what I grow and find locally, I don’t buy other nuts. Pecans substitute for pine nuts in my pestos, get sprinkled on salads, or in green beans, roasted, toasted, sauteed in butter with cayenne and a hint of brown sugar and salt, and I’ve even ground them in the coffee grinder to make coating for chicken. There are many uses for them and they are amazing on their own as a snack.
If you don’t have your own pecan tree, and don’t like mealy grocery store pecans that are almost never fresh, there is usually a vendor selling them at the downtown farmer’s market on Saturdays.
There is also, a store that sells everything pecan related, from trees to whole pecans, shelled pecans, cracked pecans, chocolate covered pecans, pecan pies, pecan meal, pecan oil, pecan picker uppers and the list goes on. Berdoll Pecan Farm, is a family farm, and they operate a retail candy and gift shop in Cedar Creek, East on Hwy 71. They are “Nuts about Pecans” and you will be too, when you visit.
Berdoll Pecan Farm
2626 State Hwy 71 West
Cedar Creek, TX 78612
15 miles east of Austin, TX
(800) 518-3870 (Toll Free)
(512) 303-6157 (Austin)
Fx. (512) 321-1085