March 03, 2022
This question is very common, and pretty easy to answer. It has a lot to do with how the pecans are grown, but also how they're handled after they're harvested. Pecans have an immense amount of high quality, heart healthy oil inside. At room temperature, that oil begins to oxidize, and it starts to darken the kernel. That’s oftentimes what you see with these store bought pecans.
Store bought pecans are not held in the freezer like ours are. As soon as our pecans are shelled, they go straight to the freezer at zero degrees until they're ready to be sold. When customers order them online or come to our store, they come out of the freezer, and are kept in a refrigerated cold case in the store until ready to ship or pick up. Holding fresh pecans at refrigeration temperatures allows the customer to take the pecans home and enjoy it just as if it came off the tree.
Here’s an example to demonstrate the difference between Royalty Pecans and some store bought pecans. I think you can tell quite quickly which pecans are farm fresh, and which ones are store bought. These particular pecans were grown in 2019, but they look like they came right off the tree, don't they? The store bought pecans in the picture were not handled properly after harvest. They've turned dark, and those heart healthy oils previously mentioned have oxidized, ruining any benefit they may have offered. The quality of the pecan (taste and appearance) suffers, and rancidity begins to build inside the kernel.
You’ll also note some of these pecans are not as plump, or as well filled as some of the others. Unfortunately, this has everything to do with the way that they're grown, including the management of the trees and making sure the trees don't go into stress. Well managed orchards are going to produce those nice plump pecans, which is indicative of healthy, well-fed trees during the growing season. In the picture above, you probably noticed one of the darker pecans is also a very nice, plump pecan, but it wasn't handled well after harvest, so it's probably going to have a bit of a bitter taste. A lot of hard work goes into keeping a pecan orchard healthy and well-fed, and it’s disappointing to see the work ruined by poor handling of the pecans after harvest. This could have easily been avoided had the pecans remained in the freezer or a refrigeration unit until ready to be sold. You’ll find a lot of grocery stores don’t keep their pecans in a cold unit, instead storing them on a shelf.
One other thing I see in our example here, this is called embryo rot (above). Do you see how the back part of the spine of the kernel is starting to turn dark? It indicates the tree was in stress in the final stages of its growth, and that's what caused the embryo to die.
You can read more about how we care for our trees, as well as get tips on how to keep your pecans as fresh as possible here:
March 03, 2022
Check out a video with Andy Sherrod, our Orchard Manager, where he shares his best picks for Grocery Club. Bakers, snackers, and health nuts will definitely want to skip the grocery store in favor of having always fresh pecans delivered to their door.
March 03, 2022
Orchard Manager Andy Sherrod introduces a new feature to our Farm, Grocery Club. Never run out of fresh pecans again, and keep your favorite treats always on hand. Subscribe and save with Grocery Club.
March 03, 2022
I'm Andy Sherrod, Orchard Manager at Royalty Pecan Farms.
Honey is back on the shelf, in our store or online while supplies last. A local beekeeper has a few hives on the property, and I keep a few as a hobby.
Now if you've ever wanted to take up beekeeping, it's easy! But you need to go into it well prepared. First, connect with your local beekeeper association. It's filled with amateurs and professionals and they're there to help answer your questions. Second, find the proper gear. Bees can be docile, but not always. First, you're going to need some protective gear. I've got a jacket and a veil. Some people use an entire bee suit. This is essential to keep you from getting stung.
The second essential component is a smoker. Now the smoker masks the attack pheromone that's often given off when bee colonies are opened up. A little bit of smoke will confuse the bees. They won't be able to sense that attack pheromone and you'll be able to work the colony without too much problem.
You'll also need gloves to handle the frames and protect your hands from being stung. Then you're going to need a hive tool. This is used to pry the lid off. And it's also used to pry the frames apart so you can lift them out and examine the bees to judge their health and condition.
Getting started is easy. The best time to get started is in the spring. You can buy what's called a package from a supplier. A package of bees includes a queen, some nurse bees, and some workers. You introduce this package into your own brood box.
You can also buy what's called a nucleus - we call them a “nuc”. A nuc is a five-frame box that includes an established queen with the cells filled with brood, honey and nectar and plenty of nurse bees and worker bees to keep the colony strong. It's a working colony, but just a smaller version of the larger ten-frame wooden box.
You can capture a swarm to expand your bee yard. And that's what I do. I have these swarm traps around the orchard and out in the woods. This size (pictured) is presumably the proper size for swarms that are looking for a new home to fill.
They like this particular size and shape and void that this creates. So I'll hang these on trees out in the woods. I'll put some empty frames inside for them to get started. Once the swarm becomes established, I bring the trap home, put it in a nuc box and we're ready to go.
You can also do what’s called a split. You open an existing colony, remove five frames of brood, nectar and honey, and bees that are covering the frames, and put them into an empty brood box. The old queen stays with the old colony. Buy a queen and yes you can buy queens from the Queen store and introduce her into the new brood box. Once she's accepted. You've got two functioning colonies ready to grow.
Beekeeping is a fascinating hobby with sweet rewards.
March 03, 2022
Smoking with Pecan Wood Chips and Shells
Not only is a meat smoker a great gift idea, but smoked meats are a popular staple at holiday feasts. Many Americans choose to smoke their turkeys versus slow cooking or roasting it in the oven. With the holidays fast approaching, we offer our advice on how to successfully smoke your meats with pecan wood or shells.
First, run your pecan wood chunks through a shredder. This breaks the wood into good sized pieces. Pecan hulls or shells are also an option. Due to the smaller size of the chips and shells, they provide a burst of natural, mild smoke flavor to foods. Soaking wood chips or shells in water for about 30 minutes generates steam that adds moisture and heat to the smoking process. This method also prolongs burning time.
The key with wood chips/shells is to deny the wood of oxygen so it smolders and smokes. Pecan is a recommended smoking product for poultry, beef, pork, lamb, and game meats. You can use your pecan chips and shells in smoke generators, electric/gas/charcoal grills, and smoke boxes. Check with the manufacture of your particular smoker for instructions on usage.
Royalty Pecan Farms offers shells for instore purchase, as they are available.