Pecans

I have always loved pecans. In salads. In pie. In my face. So when we moved to this apartment, I was really excited about the pecan trees in our yard. Well, technically not in our yard, but hear me out! There’s a pecan tree right at the edge of our lawn, in the neighbor’s driveway. They rent from the same people we do, and the pecans fall into our yard, and I was the only one who cared about them, so… Mine!

Same thing on the other side. There’s a vacant lot next to us, with a single tree. The guy who owns it lives in Chicago now, but it used to be his grandma’s land, so he’s kept it. Apparently he stops by about once a year to sit under the tree in a lawn chair. I like to think that’s the kind of guy who doesn’t mind someone enjoying pecans from his grandmama’s tree.

So, imagined approval from my neighbors in hand, I collected 10 lbs. of pecans this fall. I brought about half with me to Ohio at Christmas, and gave some to my mom, sister and gramma, leaving plenty for my face.

And I learned a surprising amount with this whole process; apparently you can’t just go pick the things off the ground and call it done.

First thing: I don’t need to panic as the pecans start to fall — they’ll continue to do so for about a month, maybe six weeks. The squirrels can have some; each tree is capable of producing about 50 lbs. of nuts!

Second thing: Pecans grow in fleshy green husks, like so.

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The husk dries out and turns brown as it dries. It looks sort of flower-like during this process:

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The pecan then falls out of the husk, leaving the husk on the tree or elsewhere on the ground. That‘s the time to pick them, it turns out. Because I jumped the gun, I ended up prying the husks off myself. Which is kinda dumb, because — surprise — those pecans are generally not fully formed. Sorry if your pecans suck, family!

After you pick them, the pecans need to be cured in a breathable bag for a couple weeks, at which point you’re supposed to be able to crack them cleanly. These have been waiting for a couple months, but I don’t think they’re quite there yet. These things better be worth it.

…Who am I kidding? I’ll still pick them again next year, even if they don’t work out this time. Hope for pecan pie springs eternal!

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