No matter how you pronounce it–puh-CON or pea-CAN–be sure to celebrate this month by munching on some pecans. In a nutshell (pardon the pun), National Pecan Month, established in April 2001, is a way to pay homage to this all-American food, the only tree nut native to North America.
We’re particularly excited about a month devoted to pecans because they are so very Southern. Pecan trees are widely cultivated throughout Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Texas, where the pecan tree has been the official state tree since 1919. And Albany, Georgia, which boasts more than 600,000 pecan trees, is known as the “Pecan Capital of the U.S.”
I have vivid childhood memories of picking up pecans in my grandparent’s yard in Red Level, Alabama. It was tedious work but well worth it when I would happen upon a nut with a slightly cracked shell. I would pry it open with my little fingers and eat it right up–no one was the wiser. No wonder I would end up with an empty bag and sore back! Thankfully, one day Poppy returned home from the hardware store with a “pecan picker-upper”—you know the gadget with the little metal basket on the end of a stick. I would push it down against the ground and the pecan popped right into the cage. Ingenious, I tell you!
Don’t have a pecan tree in your yard? Try planting one this spring! They are fast growing trees that thrive in our southern climate with full sun and well-drained soil. Two of our favorite Southern sources for ordering pecan trees are The Nursery at TyTy and Aaron’s Farm, both in Georgia.
Now on to the best part about pecans—eating them! Long a staple in Southern kitchens, pecans can be found on tables year round. I do agree with the saying “everything is better with bacon,” but I also feel the same way about pecans. Here are a few of our favorite pecan recipes from the Southern Living Test Kitchen. Happy National Pecan Month, y’all!
Southern Living Pecan Recipes:
Utterly Deadly Southern Pecan Pie
Whitney Long is a Southern Living contributing editor and co-founder of ”The Southern Coterie,” the social network of the South. The Southern C is hosting its first Southern Coterie Summit May 1 – 3 on Jekyll Island.