Last week, I was fortunate to spend three days in the Austin, Texas area, learning about Texas pecans and how they essentially make their way from farm to fork.
We started the week with a delicious dinner at the Shellers Barrelhouse Bar at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort, right outside of Austin, which included a peach and pecan spinach salad, pecan oil roasted fingerling potatoes, Chicken Paillard with pecan apricot relish, and warm chocolate bread pudding with bourbon pecan caramel sauce.
The next day, we headed to the Berdoll Pecan Candy & Gift Company, to check out their facilities and some of their wares; had lunch at Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, TX; and ended the day at Swift River Pecans, also in Lockhart, where we were shown the grounds and also shown how to properly shake a pecan tree.
On the final day, we checked out the Pecan Grove Farm and Nursery, in Cedar Creek, TX, and were shown their seedlings and how they farm their pecan trees. We ended the trip with a tasty lunch overlooking their orchard, finishing it with a pecan brown butter crumb cake, with crème fraiche and cajeta.
What I learned on the trip:
- There are tons of different varieties of pecans! At Swift River Pecans, we sampled about 10+ different varieties, and you can tell the difference between them just from how they tasted—Pawnee, for example, tasted more buttery to me than the Native pecans or the Apache ones.
- You can freeze pecans—Swift River Pecans has a freezer and its customers stop by to purchase from it.
- You can actually freeze pecans in a sealed plastic bag for up to two years, and thaw and re-freeze repeatedly during that time without losing flavor or texture, according to the Texas Pecan Board.
- If you’re not freezing them, make sure to store them in the fridge and not at room temperature.
- Pecans literally can be used in any dish. We sampled chicken, lamb, fish, appetizer, and dessert dishes on the trip, all of which were made or garnished with pecans.
- You can use pecan oil to cook, instead of your typical olive oil or canola oil.
- To get the pecans off the trees, the farmers use a machine to shake the tree. The pecans then fall off the tree, and they use a rake to separate the pecans from the leaves and other debris.
- Pecans can be used in gluten-free, Paleo-friendly, Keto-friendly and vegan recipes.
And finally … it’s pronounced “peh-CAHN” and not “pee-can” ... I used to pronounce it "pee-can" before this trip, but now I know better!