Some people might say what makes the pecan pie so good is the number of sweet ingredients you add to it. However, the ultimate focus should always be on the pecan nuts you add. After all, without the pecans, your confectionary dessert is just sugar, butter, and crust. Not to mention, pecans contain over nineteen vitamins and minerals. They are also a great source of natural carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fats. Just a few more reasons why pecan pie is so good.
Fans of this dessert have debated the benefits of using whole or halved pecans while others swear by the combination of whole, halves, and chopped pecans. Suffice it to say, pecan pie is so good because it is a gooey, savory nutty dessert. But, did you know not every pecan tastes the same? Interestingly enough, this could cause some slight differences in your homemade pecan pie. There are over one thousand types of pecan trees and hundreds of varieties of pecan nuts. Each one has different shapes, sizes, colors, flavors, and textures. Don’t worry, you will not have to review that many pecans to decide which ones you should use. Despite the many varieties, there are only a few used in commercial production. There are usually two questions nut experts and farmers pose when it comes to growing nuts for commercial sale.
- How thick/hard is the shell?
- Some pecans with harder or thicker shells are more difficult to crack.
- For a more user-friendly option, the thinner shells, also known as paper shell nuts are what buyers will typically go with.
- Paper shell nuts mean the pecan nut is easier to crack open using one’s hands or simple to crack with a nutcracker.
- How much pecan meat does it produce?
- Usually, the thicker shells produce smaller pecan nuts, otherwise referred to as pecan meat.
- The paper shell pecan nuts are preferred due to the pecan meat to shell ratio.
- For instance, some commercial pecan nuts have a 60% meat to 40% shell ratio. The average is between 45-50% meat to shell ratio.
Pecan nut varieties may have differing characteristics, but the taste factor is a matter of preference. Since each variety yields a different amount of natural oils, that buttery, nutty flavor you love so much will depend on oil content. Pecan nuts with lower oil content may not be as enriched in flavor as pecan nuts with higher oil content.
Some of the most popular pecan nuts include Cape Fear pecans, Choctaw pecans, Desirable pecans, Forkert pecans, Kiowa pecans, Moreland Pecans, and Stuart pecans. Some people enjoy the occasional wild seedling pecans as well. On that note, do not forget that bitterness can play a factor in taste, depending on the type of pecan.
Every state has a different list of pecan trees that are recommended for planting, based on how well they can grow in that zone or region. In Texas, the rich history behind the San Saba Pecan is one reason this variety continues to gain popularity among pie lovers and professional bakers alike. The San Saba Pecan is aptly named after the river that helped hydrate its’ roots as well as the county and town it was grown in. The pecans this tree produced were so delicious that the town of San Saba garnered more attention and was labeled as the pecan capital of the world.