Pecan Nutrition, FAQs, and Interesting Facts
When you’ve owned a pecan farm since 1948, you know a thing or two about pecans!
We love educating our customers and readers, and you can imagine we’ve been asked a lot of questions over the years. We thought we’d share some popular questions here about our favorite topic.
Why is the Pecan One of the Best Nuts You Can Eat?
Georgia pecans have been around since Columbus arrived, making them the original super nut. Consumers are looking for more plant-based proteins and fats, and pecans check both of those boxes.
Pecans are available whole or shelled, in many sizes from mammoth to small pecan pieces; from the pecan in the shell to the smallest component, the pecan meal. Here are a few different ways people consume pecans:
· For baking and cooking. Pecan pieces and pecan meal are ideal because there are so many delicious, healthy substitutions that can be made. For example, pecan meal is tasty when dredging a mild white fish instead of cornmeal. Or used in desserts, salads, and appetizers.
· For snacking. Pecans are heart-healthy, delicious, and filling
· Have a sweet tooth? Pecans are a fantastic candy alternative
· For gifts. Pecans are considered a gourmet, fancy nut, and they are a special treat for neighbors, friends, family members, and business associates.
People enjoy pecans many different ways: toasted, roasted, salted, flavored, candied and raw.
Are Pecans Good for You?
Pecans are not only tasty, they are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
· Pecans have a higher oil content than most other nuts. These Omega 3 healthy fats contribute to their superior flavor while also making them a heart-healthy food
· Pecans are high in antioxidants, which are thought to fight cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer's. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry cites that pecans contain more antioxidants than any other tree nut. According to the USDA, they even rank among the top 15 foods with the highest levels of antioxidants. They’re in good company with other high-antioxidant foods such as blueberries, Goji berries, artichokes, and kale.
· Pecans naturally contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, zinc, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin E, and magnesium
· Pecans also provide a good source of plant-based, vegan protein
Are Pecans Keto Friendly and Low Carb?
The ketogenic diet is a strict low-carb, high-fat diet. Keto diets and other low carb diets require carefully counting your carbs, so while you want to consume nuts in moderation due to the healthy fat content, pecan-lovers can have peace of mind knowing pecans are one of the lowest-carb nuts you can eat. Cashews, on the other hand, are the highest in carbs compared to pecans.
How do you say pecan? Puh-KAHN or Pee-can?
The battle over how you pronounce “pecans” has been waged for decades. A dialect study showed that almost 30% of Americans say pee-kahn, 21% say pi-kahn, and 13% say pee-can. Here at Sunnyland Farms, we have a more diplomatic answer. Whether you say puh-kahn or pee-can, we’re sorry to tell you there is no right or wrong answer—it all depends on what your mama taught you to say.
What Are the Different Types of Pecans Available?
Most people don’t realize there are so many different varieties of pecans. In fact, Sunnyland harvests more than a half-dozen pecan varieties. The correct terminology is cultivar, or varietal, when speaking about the different varieties.
Here are a few we love:
· Mammoth Desirable halves are among the most popular pecan type. They’re super crunchy and toasty.
· The Elliot pecan is the undisputed King of Flavor. Packed with more oil than most other pecans, the Elliot “Cultivar” is naturally sweet & delicious all in its own (we call them Jr. Halves around here).
· Schleys, or Papershell, pecans are also extremely high in oil content and are larger than Elliotts. They are mammoth like the Desirables but taste more like an Elliot. They’re harder to grow but we still make sure to find the best of the best.
· Pawnee are an early harvested nut with a nice, rich flavor. They have a nice golden color and are sometimes used for pecan pieces.
What is a "Mammoth" Pecan?
Pecan varietals also have different “grades,” or sizes, they can be classified as.
If they’re in a specific larger grade, they can go under the classification “mammoth,” which is where “mammoth pecans” come from. Mammoth pecan halves count at 250 or less per pound.
What is a “Junior" Pecan?
“Junior pecans” are a smaller grade, but equally delicious. Junior pecan halves are the next largest size and count between 251-300 halves per pound. At Sunnyland we don’t sell anything smaller than a Junior.
What Makes a Pecan a “Fancy" pecan?
“Fancy grade size” is another box check when it comes to size. There are two areas we look at: quality and size.
For quality: (1) Well dried; (2) Fairly well developed; (3) Fairly uniform in color; (4) Not darker than “amber” skin color; (5) Free from damage or serious damage by any cause; (6) Free from pieces of shell, center wall, and foreign material; and, (7) Comply with tolerances for defects
For size: (1) Halves are fairly uniform in size; (2) Halves conform to size classification or count specified; and, (3) Comply with tolerances for pieces, particles, and dust
At Sunnyland, we consider ours “Extra-Fancy” because we only take the best of the best. If you look at our pecans versus any other “fancy” you will see an incredible difference.
Regardless of the grade, our pecans have to meet national quality standards, and even more rigorous quality standards we have in house.
What is Pecan Harvesting?
Pecan harvesting is the cycle of how pecans get from tree to table: from planting to watering, shaking to harvesting, sorting to cleaning, and shelling to selling. Want to know more about the process of how our pecans get from tree to table? Read our educational article about pecan trees here.
How Do You Keep Pecans Fresh?
For many people who have never tried a fresh pecan, they don’t know what they’re missing.
When you talk about storing pecans and the proper way to store them, most consumers aren’t aware you need to freeze them, due to the oil content in pecans.
In fact, the lighter the pecans, the better the taste. When you walk through the grocery store and see pecans not being refrigerated and they’re dark, that means they’ve turned rancid.
Proper storage can make or break the quality of the product. We recommend storing your pecans in the freezer. It doesn’t take them long to come back up to room temperature, and it will protect the quality. We have a helpful guide here for tips on storing pecans and other mixed nuts.
Want to know more about pecan freshness and buying quality products? Check out this article on farm-fresh and organic pecans.
How is Sunnyland Different from Others That Sell Pecans Online?
While many are familiar with the “Farm to Table” movement, we like to tout “Tree to Table.” At Sunnyland, we have our hands directly involved throughout the entire process: Planting, Growing, Harvesting, Sorting, Shelling, Toasting, Packaging, and Shipping.
Sunnyland Farms is a 1,700-acre pecan farm in Albany, Georgia. We started in 1948 as a small mail-order business, and over the years have grown an online store that has served millions of customers all around the year. We’re known for our friendly customer service, our commitment to high-quality products (nuts, goodies, and gifts), and of course our “only the best” philosophy in every aspect of what we do.