History of the Pecan

The History of Pecans, A Pecan Timeline and Fun Facts

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Pecans Were Popular From the Start

The history of pecans can be traced back to the 16th century. The only major tree nut that grows naturally in North America, the pecan is considered one of the most valuable North American nut species. The name “pecan” is a Native American word of Algonquin origin that was used to describe “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.”

Originating in central and eastern North America and the river valleys of Mexico, pecans were widely used by pre-colonial residents. Pecans were favored because they were accessible to waterways, easier to shell than other North American nut species and of course, for their great taste.

Because wild pecans were readily available, many Native American tribes in the U.S. and Mexico used the wild pecan as a major food source during autumn. It is speculated that pecans were used to produce a fermented intoxicating drink called “Powcohicora” (where the word “hickory” comes from). It also is said that Native Americans first cultivated the pecan tree.

Presidents Washington and Jefferson Loved Pecans, Too!
One of the first known cultivated pecan tree plantings, by Spanish colonists and Franciscans in northern Mexico, appears to have taken place in the late 1600’s or early 1700’s. These plantings are documented to around 1711—about 60 years before the first recorded planting by U.S. colonists.

The first U.S. pecan planting took place in Long Island, NY in 1772. By the late 1700’s, pecans from the northern range reached the English portion of the Atlantic Seaboard and were planted in the gardens of easterners such as George Washington (1775) and Thomas Jefferson (1779). Settlers were also planting pecans in community gardens along the Gulf Coast at this time.

In the late 1770’s, the economic potential of pecans was realized by French and Spanish colonists settling along the Gulf of Mexico. By 1802, the French were exporting pecans to the West Indies—although it is speculated that pecans were exported to the West Indies and Spain earlier by Spanish colonists in northern Mexico. By 1805, advertisements in London said that the pecan was “…a tree meriting attention as a cultivated crop.”

The Birth of an Industry
New Orleans, located near the mouth of the Mississippi River, became very important to the marketing of pecans. The city had a natural market as well as an avenue for redistributing pecans to other parts of the U.S. and the world. The New Orleans market gained local interest in planting orchards, which stimulated the adaptation of vegetative propagation techniques and led to the demand for trees that produce superior nuts.

During the 1700’s and the early 1800’s, the pecan became an item of commerce for the American colonists and the pecan industry was born. (In San Antonio, the wild pecan harvest was more valuable than popular row crops like cotton!)

Pecan groves (trees established by natural forces) and orchards (trees planted by man) consisted of diverse nuts with various sizes, shapes, shell characteristics, flavor, fruiting ages and ripening dates. In the midst of this variability, there was the occasional discovery of a wild tree with unusually large, thin-shelled nuts, which were in high demand by customers.

In 1822, Abner Landrum of South Carolina discovered a pecan budding technique, which provided a way to graft plants derived from superior wild selections (or, in other words, to unite with a growing plant by placing in close contact). However, this invention was lost or overlooked until 1876 when an African-American slave gardener from Louisiana (named Antoine) successfully propagated pecans by grafting a superior wild pecan to seedling pecan stocks. Antoine’s clone was named “Centennial” because it won the Best Pecan Exhibited award at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. His 1876 planting, which eventually became 126 Centennial trees, was the first official planting of improved pecans.

The successful use of grafting techniques led to grafted orchards of superior genotypes and proved to be a milestone for the pecan industry. The adoption of these techniques was slow and had little commercial impact—until the 1880’s when Louisiana and Texas nurserymen learned of pecan grafting and began propagation on a commercial level.

Thus was the start of a booming pecan growing and shelling industry!

A PECAN TIMELINE

1500’s

  • Native Americans utilized and cultivated wild pecans

1600’s – 1700’s

  • Spanish colonists cultivated orchards (late 1600’s – early 1700’s)
  • English settlers planted pecan trees (1700’s)
  • George Washington planted pecan trees (1775)
  • Thomas Jefferson planted pecan trees (1779)
  • Economic potential for pecans realized (late 1700’s)

1800’s

  • Pecans exported by French to the West Indies (1802)
  • Pecan budding technique discovered (1822)
  • Successful grafting of the pecan tree (1846)
  • First planting of improved pecans (1876)
  • Commercial propagation of pecans begins (1880’s)

Source: Pecan Technology, Edited by Charles R. Santerre, http://www.ilovepecans.org/pecans-101/history-of-pecans/

15 Amazing Benefits of Pecans for Skin, Hair and Health

Nuts are becoming increasingly popular as a crunchy and nutritious snack. Pecans are one of the most popular edible nuts native to North America and Mexico. The pecan tree is a large deciduous tree belonging to the hickory family. A typical pecan has a buttery rich shell which is golden brown outside and beige inside. The kernel occupies 40% to 60% of the space inside the shell. This kernel has a grooved surface but is slightly more oval in shape. The pecan has a sweet, rich and buttery flavor and texture which can be attributed to its high levels of monounsaturated oils. Pecans have a fat content of over 70% which is the highest among all the nuts. Shelled pecans are available all year round while unshelled pecans are available in autumn.

Pecans come in various sizes such as mammoth, extra-large, large, medium, small and midget. They are also available in several forms such as whole pecans, pecan halves, pieces, granules and meals. Their rich buttery flavor makes them suitable for both savory and sweet dishes. The famous “pecan pie” is a classic South American dish which uses pecan as a primary ingredient. Raw pecans can be salted or sweetened and make for a delicious snack. They can be sprinkled over desserts, particularly sundaes and ice creams. They are also widely used in confectionery as an addition to biscuits, sweets and cakes. Pecan nut butter is a popular spread for breads, toast etc.

So here are the benefits of eating pecans:

Health Benefits of Pecans:

Like most other nuts, pecans contain various nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and vitamins that offer some wonderful health benefits.

1. Cardiovascular Health:

Pecans are rich in fiber which boosts the health of your heart by reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and preventing some forms of cancer. It also contains monounsaturated fats like oleic acid along with phenolic antioxidants that are healthy for your heart and help prevent coronary artery disease and strokes. As per research, pecans may help prevent coronary heart disease by inhibiting unwanted oxidation of blood lipids.

2. Digestive Health:

The fiber contained in pecans promotes colon health and facilitates regular bowel movements. It enables the colon to work at greater levels of efficiency by cleaning out the gastrointestinal system. Besides, it prevents constipation and reduces the risk of colitis, colon cancer and hemorrhoids.

3. Helps in Weight Loss:

Research has indicated that a diet comprising of nuts such as pecans helps in losing weight. This is because nut consumption enhances satiety and increases metabolism.

4. Reduces the Risk of Breast Cancer:

Pecans contain oleic acid, a fatty acid which has been found to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

5. Bone and Teeth Health:

Phosphorus is one of the most abundant minerals in the body after calcium. Nearly 85% of phosphorus is found in bones and teeth while the other 15% is found in cells and tissues. Besides cleansing the waste from the body, phosphorus, along with calcium, promotes the health of your bones and teeth. This mineral is also vital for the growth and repair of cells and tissues as well as production of DNA and RNA. Lastly, it prevents muscle pain that can occur due to exercising.

6. Anti-inflammatory Benefits:

Pecans are rich in magnesium which is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Studies have proved that increased magnesium intake reduces inflammatory indicators in the body such as CRP (C-reactive protein), TNF (tumor necrosis factor alpha) and IL6 (interlukin 6). It also reduces inflammation in the arterial walls, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other inflammatory ailments.

7. Reduces Blood Pressure:

Magnesium in pecans has been shown to help lower blood pressure. Though pecans cannot cure hypertension, they do help lower it.

8. Reduces the Risk of Stroke:

Studies have proved that consuming 100 milligrams of magnesium per day reduces the risk of stroke by 9%. Pecan being a good source of magnesium can form part of your diet to reap this benefit.

9. Anti-cancer Properties:

Pecans are rich in phytochemical substances such as polyphenolic antioxidant ellagic acid, vitamin E, beta-carotene, lutein and zea-xanthin. These compounds play an important role in removing toxic oxygen-free radicals, thus protecting your body from diseases, cancer and infections. Ellagic acid possesses anti-proliferative properties which inhibit DNA binding of certain carcinogens such as nitrosamines and polycyclic hydrocarbons, thus protecting the human body from cancers.

10. Strengthens the Immune System:

Pecans are a rich source of manganese which is a powerful antioxidant. This trace mineral helps boost your immunity and protects your nerve cells from free-radical damage. Adequate intake of manganese is vital for nerve conduction and brain function.

Skin Benefits of Pecans:

Pecans, like most other nuts, are rich in nutrients like zinc, vitamin E, vitamin A, folate and phosphorus, which play an important role in maintaining good skin. The various benefits of pecans for skin are as follows:

11. Prevents Skin Problems:

The outside appearance of our skin depends upon how we treat it from the inside. Thus, adequate nutrition is inevitable for maintaining a healthy skin and preventing skin problems. The toxins inside your body can make your skin suffer by causing breakouts, dullness and excess oil. Pecans are a good source of fiber which can do wonders for your health and hence, for your skin. It aids in the elimination of toxins and waste from the body, thereby improving the appearance of your skin.

12. Helps Maintain Clear Complexion:

Pecans contain zinc which helps in maintaining skin health by guarding against infections. Vitamin A on the other hand is an antioxidant which gives you a clear complexion.

13. Anti-aging Benefits:

Pecans contain numerous antioxidants including ellagic acid, vitamin A and vitamin E. These antioxidants fight and eliminate the free radicals which are responsible for causing premature skin aging. Thus, pecans can prevent the occurrence of signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles and pigmentation.

Just like our skin, healthy hair is also a reflection of a healthy body. Thus, our hair follicles require adequate supply of vital nutrients to maintain their health and prevent hair problems. The nutritional value of pecans makes them beneficial for your hair.

14. Stimulates Hair Growth:

Pecans are an excellent source of L-arginine, an amino acid which, when applied topically helps treat male pattern baldness as well as encourage the growth of healthy hair. Vibrant blood flow throughout the body and to the hair roots is vital for healthy hair growth and scalp. L-arginine is beneficial in this regard as it improves the health of the artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots which can block the flow of blood.

15. Prevents Hair Loss:

Anemia is one of the common causes of hair loss. It is caused by iron deficiency in the blood. Pecans, being a good source of iron, can be included in your diet to improve your blood iron levels and hence, combat hair loss.

 

Credit: SABA, http://www.stylecraze.com/articles/benefits-of-pecans-for-skin-hair-and-health/

Pecans… Good for Your Health!

Pop a Pecan, Not a Pill. Article by Karen Borsari, Shape Magazine Online.
According to the National Pecan Shellers Association, pecans are high in healthy unsaturated fat and just a handful a day can lower “bad” cholesterol. They also contain more than 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B, and E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Just one ounce of pecans provides 10percent of the Daily Recommended intake of fiber. Pecans are also rich in age defying antioxidants. In fact, research from the USDA shows that pecans are the most antioxidant-rich tree nut and rank among the top 15 foods with the highest levels of antioxidants. I’m thinking a bowl of Greek yogurt topped with blueberries and pecans may as well be the breakfast version of the fountain of youth!
I had no idea just how good pecans are for you and, since I’m all about getting my nutrients from food, not supplements, I’ll be adding this healthy nut to my diet—and I’m looking beyond pecan pie. Sure it’s one of my Thanksgiving favorites but considering pecan is one of the worst pies for you, I did a little research and found some amazingly delicious yet healthy pecan recipes. My mouth was watering just reading about the 200-calorie goat cheese and pecan stuffed peppers, and I never would have thought to put pecans in my soup! More amazingly, I actually found a pecan pie recipe with no butter and no corn syrup and a raw, dairy-free ice cream recipe made with pecans.
If you’re as excited about the super-healthy nut as I am, you’re in luck! April is National Pecan Month. Aside from sharing my new arsenal of healthy pecan recipes with you, I’ve collected a few fun facts about the native American nut:

  • Pecans are the only tree nut native to North America. The first cultivated pecan trees were planted in the late 1600s to early 1700 hundreds in northern Mexico. The first U.S. plantings were on Long Island, New York.
  • Perhaps due to glaciers, pecans died out in Europe about two million years ago.
  • About 1,000 pecan varieties exist, many of them named after Native American tribes.
  • Today, the U.S. produces about 80 percent of the world pecan supply. The top states, in order, are Georgia, New Mexico and Texas.
  • In 1920 commercial shelling equipment brought unshelled pecans to consumers for the first time.
  • Webster’s dictionary offers three pronunciations for the word: pi-ˈkän, pi-ˈkan and ˈpē-ˌkan (because I know this article is going to set off a few arguments about that…)

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Fancy a Mammoth?

In the 16th century pecans grew wild across America, and were a staple for Native American tribes. The legend goes that the Algonquin tribe gave the delicious Mammoth Pecan its name.At Hudson Pecan, we honor this rich history with hand selected, Fancy Mammoth Pecans. Fancy Mammoth large pecan halves are perfect for snacking and baking, and all our mammoth pecan halves are kosher-certified. We can ship bulk quantities, so visit our Shop to order today!iStock_000011434538XSmall