The history of pecans can be traced back to the 16th century. The only major tree nut that grows naturally in North America, the pecan is considered one of the most valuable North American nut species. The name "pecan" is a Native American word of Algonquin origin that was used to describe "all nuts requiring a stone to crack.”
Originating in central and eastern North America and the river valleys of Mexico, pecans were widely used by pre-colonial residents. Pecans were favored because they were accessible to waterways, easier to shell than other North American nut species and of course, for their great taste.
Because wild pecans were readily available, many Native American tribes in the U.S. and Mexico used the wild pecan as a major food source during autumn. It is speculated that pecans were used to produce a fermented intoxicating drink called "Powcohicora" (where the word "hickory" comes from). It also is said that Native Americans first cultivated the pecan tree.
Five Fun Pecan Facts:
- Texas adopted the pecan tree as its state tree in 1919. In fact, Texas Governor James Hogg liked pecan trees so much that he asked if a pecan tree could be planted at his gravesite when he died.
- Albany, Georgia, which boasts more than 600,000 pecan trees, is the pecan capital of the U.S. Albany hosts the annual National Pecan Festival, which includes a race, parade, pecan-cooking contest, the crowning of the National Pecan Queen and many other activities.
- There are over 1,000 varieties of pecans. Many are named for Native American Indian tribes, including Cheyenne, Mohawk, Sioux, Choctaw and Shawnee.
- Before a shelled pecan is ready to be sold, it must first be cleaned, sized, sterilized, cracked and finally, shelled.
- The U.S. produces about 80 percent of the world’s pecan crop.
Five Pecan Recipes:
- Honey Pecan Chicken- Every summer, thousands of women attend the Lottie’s Kitchen event in Deal, NJ, a fundraiser for Ezer Mitzion in Israel. The event features food demonstrations back-to back throughout the day. A version of this chicken was demonstrated by Lisa Melamed. It’s become my family’s favorite—moist and sweet, without the need to fry.
- Sweet and Spicy Pecans- Take this tasty snack to your next party-it has a great salty and sweet flavour. Once your guests take one bite they will be back for more!
- Blueberry-Pecan Pancake Mix- Skip the mix; you'll love the sweetness of dried blueberries and crunch of pecans in these sure-to-please pancakes.
- Chocolate Chip Pecan Scones- Scones, which can be made sweet, savory or plain, are similar to biscuits, both in their texture and in how they are made. They can be easily made with ingredients you already have in your kitchen.
- Pear Soup with Feta, Pecans & Balsamic Reduction- This soup works best as a starter—half-cup portions are all you need. The reduced balsamic, feta and pecans add amazing texture and flavor. I like to serve the soup with the vinegar reduction drizzled on top, garnished with the feta and pecans. This way your guests can mix it together or have something different in each spoon!
Click for more Pecan Recipes.
Nutrition information per slice of pecan pie:
Fat: 27 g
Carbohydrates: 63 g
Cholesterol: 106 mg
Sodium: 320 mg
Protein: 6 g