AUBURN, Ala. – Fall is the time when pecan crops are ready to be harvested. This comes at the perfect time to use pecans to create the Fall recipes that we love. But, before people can use them in recipes, they have to be gathered and stored. An Extension professional offer tips for gathering and storing pecans.
“Harvest your pecans promptly for best quality,” said Doug Chapman, an Alabama Extension regional agent in commercial horticulture. “Don’t let them lie on wet ground for extended periods of time. “
This process improves the quality of the nuts until they reach their optimum appearance, aroma, flavor and texture. If nuts get wet after initial drying, the seed coat will darken and the oil in the kernel increases the fatty acid levels. This condition causes nuts to be stale and rancid.
After gathering, take pecans to a dry location inside. Drying is one of the most important steps in assuring a high-quality appearance and flavor in pecans. If possible, spread pecans out in a dry, moderately warm place and dry several days before storing. Refrigerate or freeze pecans when they are dried to a crisp texture.
Crack and shell your pecans as soon as possible. Shelled pecans can also be frozen until you are ready to use them.
Pecans stored below freezing can keep for two years. Make sure kernels are dried properly before freezing. Lay the nuts out several days in a warm, dry place. Kernels should be crisp and break easily in half if dried properly.
Don’t store pecans in packages with apples or other fruits. Also, don’t store them in rubber-like packages or in rooms that may be musty. Pecans absorb gases from the storage atmosphere, which can change the flavor and the pecan’s stability.
Caring for Pecan Trees in the Fall
If you need to apply lime or zinc to pecan trees, fall is a good time to do so. Soil testing will provide detailed instructions on fertilizing and liming. Clean up and destroy pops, shucks, leaves and limbs to reduce pest problems. If trees have lost their leaves by Nov. 1 because of aphids, downy spot, pecan scab or other damage, expect to see a reduced pecan crop next year.
Alabama Extension has the publication, Pecans–Keep Them Fresh Year Round, that discusses a variety of topics on pecans. For more information contact your county Extension office.