Most people in my life are now tired of hearing me go on about my exciting adventures in pecans, but maybe not the interwebs, so here we go:
About two months ago, a friend who is a native Texan informed me that our newly purchased house also had a pecan tree in the backyard! Surprise, surprise. Being from New England, I had no idea that the tree dropping all of those annoying and spicy-smelling pods all over the backyard was a pecan tree. I never saw one before. Now that I know what they look like, I realize they are everywhere here.
This pecan tree is now one of my favorite things about our house. Collecting pecans makes me feel like a pioneer, which I love. I only used to get that feeling from: a) baking bread and b) making chicken stock.
I immediately set about making the most of my bounty. Since late October, the pecans have been falling out of their shells and each weekend I’ve spent some time foraging and collecting them. I’m amazed at how many nuts one backyard tree has yielded. Each weekend, I figured I would only collect a half bag more or so, and each weekend I collected more than a whole shopping bag full.
Now it looks like the nuts have all dropped out of their pods and I’ve collected as much as I’m going to collect. The total haul: 4 completely full brown paper grocery bags full of nutty goodness.
I shelled enough nuts myself to do a test batch of cinnamon-and -sugar roasted pecans, to make sure they were delicious. They were. This also convinced me I didn’t want to shell any more pecans at all, ever, much less our entire haul.
Fortunately, there are places in San Antonio where you can get your pecans machine-shelled. Today, I took mine to a place called Brooke’s Pecan Cracking and Shelling Service. I ended up with 51.5 pounds of nuts in the shell. I opted for the full shelling service, which ran $0.70 a pound. Well worth it. The total cost was about $38.00. And though they warned me that only about 50% of the nuts would be good, we got way more than that: about 75% of the nuts were perfect. That means we now have about 38 pounds of shelled pecans. It goes without saying that everyone I know is getting vast amount of roasted pecans, prepared in all kinds of different ways, for holidays gifts.
Brooke’s Pecan Cracking and Shelling Service was a pretty bare bones operation. Though I found out about the business through an internet search, there was no sign on the building: I had to call when I was close because I couldn’t find it. But it worked out fine: Mr. Brooke just came out to the street and waved me on in. And the people that worked there were incredibly nice and definitely know their pecans: they taught me a lot about how to store them and told me what kind of tree we have, and explained the difference between varieties of pecan trees. They also said I did a really good job only picking the good nuts, at least, “for a first timer.” They also had a pretty calico cat who seems to live in the shop.
But my favorite part was when the nice lady who works the counter — and looked like my grandmother — asked me what my last name was, so she could write it on the grocery bags with my pecans in them. I told her my last name and started to spell it. She got her pen ready, but then just stopped, stared at me, cocked an eyebrow and said :”You got a first name?”