One of our unexpected blessings when we moved to our new farm was the presence of mature and healthy pecan trees in the front yard. Our first year here was not a good year for pecans we were told, and we were a bit preoccupied with moving in, unpacking, and starting a new job; so we did not attempt to harvest. The second year we waited with eager anticipation for our first fall harvest of deliciousness.
As soon as the husks began to dry and the pecans began to fall, we began to fill buckets. Every day my son and I would pick pecans off the ground. On the weekends all three of us would fill the John Deere wagon, separating out the wormy ones for the chickens.
At first we picked by hand; better for sorting, but hard on the back. One of our lovely neighbors took pity on us and loaned us a pecan picker. Seriously, a pecan picker! What an ingenious invention! It’s a tool with a long handle like a rake, at one end of the long handle is a wire basket, either in the shape of a wheel that you roll over the pecans, or a rectangle that you press over the pecans. The wires spread apart to allow the nuts to pop inside and you can fill the basket, then empty your load into your separate bucket, wagon, or sack. We quickly discovered that this odd-looking device which we had never even heard of was completely invaluable, so we bought one of our own.
We harvested until we could harvest no more and our final result was one hundred pounds of pecans with the shells still intact. We were thrilled. The excitement continued when we learned that we could take the pecans to a place that would run all of the nuts through a machine and crack the shells. We did this and about a week later picked up our bounty. For the next month our hands were never idle.
I shelled pecans while my son played in the yard, my husband and I would each shell about a quart apiece as we watched a movie at night. Thought it did become tedious after a while, the reward was well worth the effort. We were able to put up forty quarts of shelled, organic, and completely delicious pecans.
Then the real fun began.
We ate pecans as a snack everyday. I roasted pecans twice a week. We made pecan pies, pecan pancakes, and sprinkled pecans on our salads. We felt rich!
Our family and friends benefited from the harvest as well. For Christmas I made my first ever holiday spice pecans, cinnamon and sugar pecans, and honey roasted pecans. I gave them as stocking stuffers and though they did not all turn out perfectly, people are generally pretty forgiving when it comes to hand made gifts, especially if they taste good!
When the time comes to move again we will definitely miss those pecans.