If you have harvested pecan nuts prematurely, then it is likely that their moisture content would be high. You’d need to dry the nuts completely so that you can crack them open easily.
Do Pecans Need to Dry Before Shelling
Pecan trees thrive abundantly in the South US, especially in the catchment area of the Mississippi River. Pecan tree grow to a height of nearly 80-100 ft and appear striking and magnificent owing to their thick canopy. The trees are cultivated extensively in the Southern US, chiefly because of their seeds or nuts that taste delicious.
Fully dried pecans have a sweet, earthy flavor, and many people savor the nuts as roasted pecans, toasted pecans, and candied pecans. Eating pecans everyday has several benefits from the perspective of health. However, you’ll need to ensure that the nuts are thoroughly dry before shelling them. In case you’ve harvested the nuts before they’re fully ripe, you’ll have to dry them up for about two weeks before you remove them from their kernels.
Harvesting the Nuts
The nuts start maturing from early fall around September through to November, depending on the variety. Mature kernels appear brown and the shucks crack open easily. You know that it is time to harvest the nuts when you are able to separate the hulls from the pecans with ease.
You can also pick some nuts during the fall when the weather is still warm and humidity levels are somewhat high. The green husk keep the pecans from ripening. However, the nuts will not be fully brown indicating that they still have high moisture content. In such an event, you can postpone harvesting till the shells take on a brownish hue.
Natural Drying Process of Pecans
Allowing the nuts to become brown will guarantee thorough kernel development. In order to have a good amount of premium quality nuts, harvest them the moment you see that the kernels are brown and the hulls break easily. Also, make sure you store and preserve the nuts properly to hold on to their pristine quality.
You may not be able to pick the nuts from the trees’ upper sections. Hence prune the trees from year to year so that you can harvest comfortably. Use a long and robust pole or shaft having a clip or hook for knocking the pecan nuts from the treetops. Shake the branches a little vigorously for ensuring that many nuts fall to the ground.
Pick up the nuts after they drop to avoid damage from pests, molds, and birds.
Remove Additional Moisture from Pecans
Harvest the nuts only when you feel they’re ripe. In case you’ve harvested the nuts prematurely due to unavoidable circumstances (trees have started rotting or are aged), do not shell them. Premature or unripe pecans will be replete with moisture, and you’ll have to dry the nuts by spreading out the kernels in a screen or wire gauze sheet. Alternatively, you can put the pecan nuts inside a string bag or net bag and place the bag in a room that is dry and well-ventilated.
Allow the nuts to dry for a couple of weeks or so. Once the nuts are dry enough, you’ll be able to break open the hulls without much effort.
Rounding up, always ensure to pick your pecans during the late fall. After all, you’ll be able to snap the kernels effortlessly only when the nuts ripen. And if you pick the nuts prematurely, you’ll have to put up with the hassle of drying them artificially.