Top Foods to Cook With Pecans

Top Foods to Cook With Pecans

Rich, buttery and oh-so-sweet, the pecan is one of the most popular nuts in the world — and it's easy to see why.

You can find pecans in your favorite dishes, from pies and tarts to savory entrees and sauces. But what makes this little nut so special?

For starters, the pecan is one of North America's original indigenous plants. It also carries more nutrients than most other seeds and nuts. Every sweet bite provides a dose of the vitamins and minerals you need to achieve a balanced diet.

Keep reading to learn more about pecans and the best pecan recipes to try at home!

Health Benefits of Pecans 

Most nuts are delicious and incredibly good for you. Pecans are filled with natural, sweet flavor and vital nutrients. Consider the following characteristics that make pecans a small but mighty snack:

Packed With Nutrients

Pecans carry more than 19 essential minerals and vitamins that prevent disease and keep your immune system strong.

Just a 28-gram serving of pecans has fewer than 200 calories and two and a half grams of protein.

Pecans also carry 38% of the recommended daily value of copper, which is vital for immune health, red blood cell production and nerve cell function.

You can also find 12% of the recommended daily value of zinc in a serving of pecans, which will improve your body's ability to heal wounds and recover from illness.

High Fiber and Low Carb

Fiber allows your body to absorb the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. It also provides your digestive tract with the support necessary to break down foods and maintain optimal digestive health.

Fiber also plays a major role in how your body responds to your eating habits. High-fiber foods will keep you feeling full longer than those that are high in sugar.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, pecans only have four grams of carbohydrates and provide 10% of the recommended daily value of fiber.

Rich in Antioxidants

Pecans are free of sodium, gluten and cholesterol, and they also rank high among the top antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals to prevent the development of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other illnesses with long-term effects.

Pecans have approximately 17,940 Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC), making them effective for helping prevent serious illness and maintaining optimum health.

Check out the full list of the amazing health benefits that pecans have to offer!

The History of Pecans

Before baking with pecans became popular, these iconic nuts were cultivated and utilized by the Native American Algonquin tribe in North America. The origin of pecans can be traced as far back as the early 1500s.

The Algonquins named the nut "pecane," which means "nuts requiring a stone to crack." Pecans were valued because they were easier than other nuts to crack, and they still boasted a delicious flavor. 

Between the late 1600s and 1700s, Spanish pioneers began planting the first pecan orchards in North America. Throughout the 1700s, the pecan industry boomed across the east coast. By 1802, the French were exporting pecans out of the U.S.

In 1822, South Carolina resident Abner Landrum invented a new method for budding pecans. He found that planting the seeds alongside a wild plant would create an exceptional variation of the beloved pecan.

In 1876, this technique was popularized by an enslaved African American from Louisiana, known as Antoine. He revolutionized the planting and grafting of pecans, contributing to the modern methods still used today.

In 1880, gardeners in Texas and Louisiana commercialized pecan production for the first time. During the early 1900s, over 2 million pecans were harvested annually. Today, that number exceeds 300 million, with the United States still clocking in as the world's largest pecan producer. 

What Are Pecans Used For?

You may be wondering what pecans are used for aside from creating delicious desserts. There are actually several ways to incorporate pecans into your daily diet:

  • Cooking: While pecans are usually associated with sweet baked goods, they can also be added to entrees and appetizers. Cooking with pecans adds texture and nutty flavor to dishes, especially squash, pork and sweet potatoes.
  • Roasting: Toasting pecans in the oven makes for a great crispy and crunchy snack. Add a sprinkle of salt or cinnamon to bring out the natural nutty flavor. 
  • Candying: You can usually find candied pecans around the holidays, but they are just as tasty all year round. You can enjoy them alone, as part of a charcuterie board or on top of ice cream.

How to Roast Pecans 

Roasting pecans is an easy way to get a comforting snack whenever you want one! To roast pecans in the oven, preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet, and lay a single layer of whole pecans on top. Bake for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When they're finished, remove the pecans from the oven, and place them on a cool baking sheet.  

How to Make Candied Pecans

Candied pecans are nuts that are coated in sugar and cooked in an oven or skillet to create a hard, crunchy glaze. 

Combine 1 ½ tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons of water, 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt in a bowl. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of pecans to the pan, and toast for three minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Evenly drizzle the sugar mixture over top of the pecans to coat them. After 20 seconds, remove the pan from the stovetop. Pour the pecans onto a piece of parchment paper, and allow them to cool. 

Common Pecan Recipes

Now that you're familiar with the characteristics of pecans, you can explore what to cook with pecans. Try out these three tasty recipes:

  • Blackberry pecan shortcakes: The perfect mixture of tart and sweet, these blackberry pecan shortcakes make for a great dessert. This simple 6-step recipe guarantees a photo-worthy finish every time.
  • Linguine with arugula pecan pesto: Homemade pecan pesto is just a few minutes away with our arugula pecan pesto linguine! The pecan's smooth and nutty flavor pairs well with the refreshing addition of arugula.
  • Butter pecan cookies: Every bite of our butter pecan cookies will remind you of the ones Grandma used to make! This classic recipe is great for parties and potlucks.

Shop Pecans and Pecan Products at Lane Southern Orchards

No other cuisine compares to genuine Southern cooking. At Lane Southern Orchards, we grow the nation's largest pecan orchard and pair our exceptional pecans with heart-to-home Southern recipes for your family to enjoy. Stop by our farm today, or experience all of our pecans and pecan products from home by shopping at our online store!

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