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The pursuit of pecan perfection
These little nuts are in season and great for baking and cooking
This Creamy Squash Casserole with Georgia Pecan Crumble is a unique way to use pecans without baking them in a dessert.
Pecan selection and storage
  • When selecting pecans, look for plump nut meats that are fairly uniform in color and size. Pecans are perishable because of their high oil content and they must be stored properly to maintain good quality.
  • At home, unshelled pecans can be stored in a cool, dry place for three to six months. Shelled pecans need to be either refrigerated in airtight containers for up to nine months or frozen in zipper-locked freezer bags for up to two years.
  • Pecans can be frozen and refrozen for at least two years without loss of flavor or texture.

Just in time for holiday treats, there is one Georgia crop that is plentiful this time of year — pecans.

These nuts have become a favorite over the years for holiday treats, but today pecans are recognized for their versatility all year long, according to Pearson Farm owner Al Pearson.

“They used to suffer or relish in the perception that they were a holiday food just for baking,” said the pecan farmer from Fort Valley. “For things like pecans pies and things that are real sweet — and they still are — but they are so very healthy and wonderful in salads and for snacking.”

The nut, found plentiful in middle and south Georgia, are filled with good fats from oils, along with vitamins and minerals.

According to the Georgia Pecan Commission, pecans provide essential nutrients like oleic acid, which can help lower cholesterol levels and are rich in vitamin E, thiamin, magnesium and copper — along with being a good source of fiber.

Which has made them a go-to ingredient in many dishes today.

“There have been a lot of recipes developed with pecan-crusted chicken and pecan-crusted trout and fish, and it really spices up the dishes,” Pearson said. “So it is a real healthy addition to your diet and we’ve been working to make it where pecans are on your menu all year.”

And this year’s harvest is perfect for stocking up the rest of the year.

“The crop is good, the quality is real good,” said Buddy Leger, the chairman of the Georgia Pecan Commission and owner of Leger and Sons, a pecan farm in Cordele. “Certainly it is better than last year; we are in a different cycle. We are estimating about 110, 112 million pounds this year.”

And while we are right in the middle of pecan harvesting season, those millions of pounds of pecans, with varieties like stuarts, desirables and sumners, are just waiting to be added to a dish or just roasted.

“In the harvest area people eat them raw, roasted, bake pecan pies put them on salads, put them on cereal,” Leger said. “Pecans added to most anything makes it better. You can make a pumpkin pie and put pecans in it. A lot of recipes call for roasted pecans but I like to just put the natural pecan in there and if you are cooking it the pecan will be cooked anyway.”

Pearson added that one of his favorite ways to enjoy pecans are right off the tree.

“Probably my favorite way to eat them is to crack two between my hands and shell them out and eat ’em,” he said. “I like roasted and salted pecans, which is grandmother’s recipe. Put them in an oven with butter and salt.

“I also like pecan-crusted fish and then I like pecans in salads.”