When purchasing fresh pecans in the shell, choose those that feel heavy
for their size, uncracked, and free of blemishes. If they rattle when
shaken, avoid, as this is an indication of age.
Shelled pecans in sealed packages or tins with expiration dates are
more reliable than those sold from bulk bins.
Pecans are harvested in the autumn months and are generally at their
peak in flavor for a month or so after harvest.
Properly stored at room temperature, pecans will keep up to three
months. Once shelled, they will keep up to six months if kept in a
sealed container in a refrigerator or up to a year in a freezer. Pecans
can be frozen shelled or unshelled.
Pecans have a high oil content. They are best purchased in the shell,
as they can turn rancid more quickly than other nuts with lower oil
Pecans readily absorb odors and flavors from their surroundings.
Shelled pecans should always be kept in a closed container.
Pecan nutmeats have a sweet, pulpy texture. They are great in fruit
salads and, if roasted slightly, are a delicious topping for cooked
grains or steamed green vegetables. The nuts are particularly enjoyed
in the infamous pecan pie, butter pecan ice cream, and the praline -- a
brown sugar candy of French origin. In most recipes pecans can be
substituted directly for walnuts. Try mixing chopped pecans into your
favorite nut loaf or bean burgers, or hide a few in sandwiches for a
crunchy surprise. Pecans are best purchased in the shell, for their
high oil content predisposes them to turn rancid quickly after shelling.
Nuts and Grains