Fall pecan harvest and Pralines: |For what it's worth

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Tuesday

Fall pecan harvest and Pralines:

Easily shell pecans plus an easy Pecan Praline Candy Recipe

It may be elementary, my dear...but I'd like to take this opportunity to share some pecan shelling techniques.

The pecan trees on our family farm have been there since my dad was a boy (he was born 1926).  He told us a story about a flood that filled the lower part of the farm with a LOT of water.  When it receded the "bottom" had a new thick layer of sandy silt and the next spring pecan trees came up along the higher water bank edge.  More were planted creating a beautiful orchard that we love to wander through.  There have been many family gatherings there for Easter hunts, July 4 Fish Fry's, domino games, and harvesting.  Sometimes we go there just to absorb the air and history.  The trees are huge but the nuts are a bit small.  Larger pecans are usually the result of human intervention and grafting larger hybrid pecan stock onto a hardier tree base.  Our pecans and trees are a gift from God, they are what they are.

The last several years of Texas drought have been tough on the trees and the fruit.  Many of the pecans are smaller than usual and some have dry or blackened meat.  I shelled 4 cups of whole pecans and had to toss about a dozen bad nuts out.  Out of 4 cups whole nuts I have 2 cups shelled pecan meat.  Here is a photo that shows the pecans as they appear during the final days of ripening.



Once the pods turn black and crack open the nuts will easily fall out.  Tree shakers are hired to clamp onto the tree and shake them loose.  That is quite a site to see.  But before the trees are completely ready for a shaker crew, they can be hand gathered off the ground.  That's what my family did last week.

Now, how to get the meat out of the shell.  Oh, that reminded me of a funny epitaph I saw on a tombstone in the local cemetery.  The guy had a sense of humor and definitely gets the last laugh. Click here to see it.
OK, I'm Back...

Choose your tools.  I had three on hand to choose from.  Our favorite cannon loading tool is packed away for our intended moving day.  I do have three other choices here.
You can use a nut/shell cracker, hammer, or my 2nd fave is a specially designed sheller that snips away the shell like scissors.

Now, we have enough shelled and ready, let's bake something.  How about one of my favorite candy recipes (from my sister).

Easy Pralines with fresh pecans

Mexican Candy



Mexican Candy (a praline like candy)

Place in a microwave safe bowl and set aside: 
  • 2 Cups coarsely chopped pecans. 
Mix in a pan and cook over medium heat to a soft ball stage, stirring continually (use a wooden spoon to avoid crystalization):
  • 1 1/2 Cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 Cups evaporated milk
  • 1/2 Cup butter
  • 3 Tablespoons light Karo syrup
  • dash of salt
Add and mix well: 
  • 1 Cup miniature marshmallows
Remove from heat to cool about 5 minutes.  

Add and beat mixture using a mixer until it begins to harden (a minute or so):
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
Pour the mixture over the pecans.
Stir together well.
If it gets too hard too quickly, put it in the microwave 20-30 seconds.  
Drop by heaping Tablespoons full onto wax paper.  I use a cookie scoop for a nice size praline.
Allow the candy to cool completely and to dry out a bit.
This recipe makes about 24 candies.

This is the easiest and most successful praline recipe I've ever used.  I have made these and bagged them in little draw string bags purchased in the wedding supply section at Walmart for both teacher gifts (70 teachers where I worked!) and as favors for a wedding reception.

Linking:
Thinking Outside the Blog
French quisine Friday recipe link up

7 comments:

  1. Very neat! Now I'll know what to do if I get some pecans! That recipe looks delicious as well :)

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  2. Thanks for stopping by our blog hop! add a button and come back next thursday! <3

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    1. I was unable to get your button to show up, the link is at the bottom of the article.

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  3. Way cool. I always appreciate posts like this that teach me something! would you want to come link it up at my weekly recipe party? I'd be so honored if you did! ~Katie http://www.katieslanguagecafe.com/2012/10/french-cuisine-friday-recipe-link-up-6.html

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    1. Thanks, and yes, would love to party with you!

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  4. Oh, this makes me want some pralines right now! Yum!!

    Thank you so much for partying with us @ Keep Calm & Link Up this week! Have a nice weekend!! xo, Meredith @ http://www.waittilyourfathergetshome.com

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  5. I need that sheller that "cuts" them in half!! I have just a regular cracker that it kills my finger tips trying the shell pecans....so I don't! But I need to, so I'm going to look for one of those! Thanks for sharing!

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