Cracking Pecans 101
I recently had a customer who brought their own pecans in for us to crack, shell and blow ask why there was such a descrpency in the weight they brought in and what they got after we cracked and shelled them. I thought this might be a good topic to discuss today. The first thing we do when you bring pecans in to have them cracked is weigh them. This is the price per pound you pay for us to crack (shell and blow) them. The pecans are then sanitized by boiling them for 10 minutes and dried on our custom drying racks. Not only does boiling them sanitize them, but it stimulates the oils in the pecans and gives them more moisture and better flavor. Next we crack the pecans in our custom crackers. There is very little weight loss at this point as shells are still included and it is up to the customer to remove the nuts from the shells. However, we do offer to shell and blow the pecans after cracking which removes the majority of shell material. It is after this stage where there is a noticeable difference in pre-cracked weight.
Another issue affecting your post cracked weight is the quality of the pecans being processed. If you have old pecans, pecans which may have had pest problems (worms or aphids), or squirrel infestations, the quality of nuts and the amount they produce will be negatively affected. Whether you have one tree or an entire orchard, proper tree management will increase your production and give you a positive harvest experience.
Another good question we have had is, "Why are there still some shells after we've had them shelled and blown?" Pecans meat is naturally cradled and attached in it's shell to protect it until it germinates into a tree. Even though the shell is cracked and then it is run through the shelling and blowing process, some shell material may still cling to the pecan meat. The only way to 100% guarantee there are no shells is to manually clean each pecan after cracking.
Whether you have one tree or an entire grove, there is a huge satisfaction one gets by harvesting their own pecans. I hope you are enjoying some on your holiday table this year.