November 1, 2021

America’s Native Nut: Pecans

America’s native nut, the pecan, is increasingly popular and not to be overlooked. Pecans are high in nutritional value and their sweet and mild taste make them ideal for cooking, baking, or eating whole as a healthy snack. Keep reading to find out more and get inspired by some delicious American Pecan recipes.

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Do you know what an American Pecan looks like? The North American nut is caramel brown on the outside with white flesh inside when broken open. It has a very thin shell that can be opened without a nutcracker if you squeeze two pecans against each other in your hand. Pecans are mainly sold raw and have the highest nutritional value of all nuts.

Pecan trees can grow up to 30 meters high. It takes more than 10 years for a tree to develop to the point where it is considered to be in full production of nuts, but then it is able to produce nuts for 100 years or more.

An All-American Heritage

American Pecans are native to North America. Their use as a food can be traced back to Native Americans, who relied on the high nutritional value of wild pecans.

Originating in the southeastern parts of the United States, American Pecans are considered the only major tree nut indigenous to North America. These trees have not been found growing naturally anywhere else in the world.  Family growers in the U.S. have grown and harvested American Pecans for generations.

Today, pecans are a part of American traditions and cuisine, especially around autumn when pecan pie is in season. 

“More than 80% of the world’s pecan supply is coming from the United States”

American Pecan Council (APC)

A local delicacy conquers the World

Aside from pie and classic desserts, pecans are a great ingredient in a range of foods. They can be used in salads or blended into smoothies. They make a great topping for ice cream and oven roasted vegetables. American Pecans are wholesome nuts that are ideal for use in recipes any time of year. Not only do they offer a rich and buttery flavor, but they are incredibly nutrient-dense and versatile – pairing well with both sweet and savory flavors. You can enjoy crunchy, savory and satisfying pecans on their own or use them to upgrade any dish! Roasting pecans deepens their flavor and enhances their texture. It’s easy to do in the oven with a dash of sea salt and a splash of olive oil. 

The Toasted Pecan, Quinoa and Maple Mustard Kale Salad by Gena Hamshaw reveals how easy it is to mix pecans into a salad. This power-packed, vegan salad combines pecans with kale, green beans, quinoa and golden beets.

Topped with a maple mustard dressing, this salad makes for a delicious meal, wholesome appetizer, or colorful side dish.

If you are looking for an elevated main course meal for a family dinner, try the Pecan-Crusted Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream Sauce. Developed by Bobby Parrish, this recipe has a lovely flavor and crunch thanks to the pecan crust. This delicious roast goes well with Charred Chickpea & Corn Salad or some Salty Wahine Roasted Vegetables

courtesy of American Pecan Council

Superfood for your heart

Nearly two decades of research shows that pecans may help maintain a healthy heart. Pecans contain a unique mix of 95 percent unsaturated fats, plant sterols, fiber, potassium, ​​phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. Each delicious pecan is a nutrition powerhouse.

Take advantage of this nutritious nut with the delightful, gluten-free Pecan Banana Bread by Jessica Hylton-Leckie. American Pecans give this classic breakfast dish a delicious twist.

Simply combine pecan pieces into the mix and sprinkle more on top for a flavorful crunch that can be made ahead of time for a weekday morning.

Small and sweet, Mini Pecan Lemon Berry Tarts could become a new dessert favorite. Using 3-ingredient mini pecan crusts as your base, these light and springy lemon berry tarts are flavorful individual desserts perfect for your next gathering.

Whether you sprinkle American Pecans on top of your morning oatmeal, toss them on top of a salad or use them to bake your traditional family recipe of pecan pie – American Pecans deserve all the love and attention in the kitchen and on the dinner table!