Shelling Pecans: How to Get the Most Nutmeat from Your Harvest

It’s pecan season, and the 2014 harvest is underway. If you’ve bought your first bushel of in-shell pecans, you’re well on your way to a delicious treat.

Naturally you want to be sure to get as much of the meat as possible out of each nut. To do this, be sure to buy in-shell pecans that have some weight to them. Large, plump nuts should entirely fill both sockets of the pecan. Shake them to make sure they don’t make any rattling sounds.

Some tools you might consider are a nutcracker or a even a simple pair of slip joint pliers that you can squeeze gently around the midsection of the nut.

There also are special-purpose pecan shellers that do the trick.

When shelling your pecans, be careful removing the nutmeat. Ideally, you will want to remove the pecans from their shells in halves, though any of the nutmeat you extract during the process is usable.

Once the shell is cracked, pull it away with your fingers or pliers. Work your way from the rounded part of the pecan to the pointed end. That’s where the two halves of the pecan are joined, so you’re less likely break the nutmeat if you start at the rounded end.

Once you’ve extracted the pecan from the shell, check the two grooves on the nut. Sometimes pieces of the shell stick in those grooves, and add a bitter taste. It’s easily removed using a toothpick or even a narrow piece of pecan shell (isn’t that what the pointy end was made for?).

Once you’ve cracked and cleaned your pecans, be sure to save all that hard work by storing your nuts in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. Even frozen, a handful of pecans are delicious and add significant protein, fiber, minerals and more to your diet.

Now, get busy cracking!