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Nashville, Ark. – Buttery, crunchy, plus full of flavor and healthy fats, it is no
wonder pecans are used in several holiday goodies. From cookies to pies, breads, candies,
and cakes, it is hard to imagine these treats without the delicious flavor of fresh
When it comes to choosing pecans for your holiday baking, choose quality. Freshness
counts. While this year’s crop is dramatically reduced due to unfavorable weather
conditions, you may still be able to purchase directly from the producer. Ask if the
pecans are this year’s crop. If purchasing from the local grocery store, check the
freshness date on the label.
If you can purchase pecans in the shell, they will be more economical since you are
not paying to have the pecans shelled. Choose shells that are clean and free of splits,
cracks, stains, or holes. They should feel heavy for their size.
If you are purchasing pecans that are already shelled, look for plump nutmeats which
are fairly uniform in color and size. The best ones have a golden-brown color. Pecan
pieces are considerably less expensive than halves and are suitable for most baking
needs. However, you may want some halves to use for garnishing and other holiday items
such as pecan pies.
When purchasing pecans, a pound of in-shell pecans will yield approximately 2 ¼ cups
of nutmeat. Twelve pecan halves will yield 3 tablespoons of chopped nutmeat. A good
rule of thumb is to get a pound of nutmeat; you will need 2 ½ pounds of good quality
Now is the time to purchase pecans. They are plentiful in the stores. Pecans are long
lasting, and when stored properly, they will hold their freshness for up to two years.
This means if you have last year’s crop, they should be okay to use if they were stored
The secret to storing pecans (after shelling) is to pack them dry, protect them from
insects, guard against absorbing odors from other foods, and keep them cool. Acceptable
containers from storing include glass jars with lids with plastic gaskets, zipper
type freezer bags with air removed, or plastic containers with tight fitting lids.
Shelled nuts will keep fresh in a cool, dry place for about 6 months. They will keep
even longer in the freezer. Freeze them in tightly closed freezer containers and store
at zero degrees or lower.
While pecans are high in fat, they do fit into an overall healthy diet. Pecans meet
the American Heart Association’s nutritional guidelines for a heart-healthy diet.
A one ounce serving (15-20 pecan halves) delivers a blast of antioxidants that are
good for your heart and taste that’s good for your soul. One ounce of pecans has 195
calories, 3 grams of fiber and both heart-healthy mono-and polyunsaturated fats. Pecans
also contain minerals like zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, and selenium.
If you love the taste of homemade baked items but prefer not to go to the trouble
of baking, then let the Howard County Extension Homemakers do the baking for you.
They will be holding their annual Bake Sale on Friday, December 9 starting at 8:00
a.m. The sale will take place at the EHC Educational Center located directly behind
the courthouse on second street. There will be all kinds of cookies, muffins, candies,
cakes, pies, breads and more. They are all made from scratch and are delicious! Be
sure to get there early. They usually sell out by noon. If you have a request for
a favorite cake or baked good, contact the Extension Office at 870-845-7517. We will
be glad to fill special orders if at all possible. All proceeds will go to benefit
the EH Center which provides space for educational programs for both EHC and 4-H youth
Recipe of the Week
This recipe is a favorite during the holiday season. It was shared by a friend a couple
of years ago and it has become one of our favorites. Great for a quick dessert or
as a coffee cake.
1 package butter recipe cake mix
1 container coconut pecan frosting
2/3 cup vegetable oil or applesauce
3/4 fourth cup water
1 cup chopped pecans
By Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff ChairThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff ChairU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852 (870) 845-7517 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
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other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.