There are a lot of nuts in the South, but our favorite is the pecan, American as pick-up trucks, bald eagles and football. Our region is home to the only tree nut native to the United States, and we are unmatched when it comes to cooking and baking with it. From crusted catfish to pie, give a Southerner a pecan and our culinary genius comes alive.
Unfortunately, a drought, and according to the New York Times, feral pigs and demand from China, have put a strain on the pecan supply this year. But if you can’t imagine the holidays without pecans, read on to get the most out of your purchase.
- Although our ancestors would probably think us nuts (ha!) to buy anything but shelled pecans, if you are in the market for nuts still in their shells, make sure to shake them. Get the ones that rattle the least.
- In this crazy, globalized world of ours, we can get bananas and blueberries whenever we need them. But with pecans it’s best to buy as many as possible in peak season and save them for later as they quickly begin to go stale after harvest. In the words of Jack White, be like the squirrel.
- Unlike many Southerners, pecans love the cold. Keep pecans in the refrigerator or even better in the freezer. It will protect not only their taste, but also their nutritional benefits and oil content. Pecans should last nine months in the fridge and up to two years in the freezer.
- Due to their oiliness, pecans can often pick up any errant smells in your fridge. Keep them in a closed container to avoid nuts that vaguely taste of leftover enchilada casserole and blue cheese.
What To Make
If you haven’t made our November cover pie, you’re really missing out on all the fun. Watch this how-to for our Salted Caramel-Chocolate Pecan Pie, and you’ll be on your way to rave reviews from your holiday table — even from your mother-in-law.
Check out this gallery of our other favorite Southern Living pecan recipes.