Pecan varieties that are cultivated for consumption, count to more than 500, and those cultivated alone in the United States, number to more than 200.
Classification of Pecan Varieties
Generally pecan varieties are classified according to the region of cultivation. In the US, there are three major cultivars called the Southeast, West and the Northern United States. However, there are over 500 different actual breeds or varieties of the pecan tree and they are named individually. The exact pecan variety for growth is selected according to region, temperature, soil quality and crop quality. Usually, varieties that require a longer growing season are known to do best in Southern America. Varieties that mature early are perfect for growth all over the country. However early maturing pecan varieties produce smaller nuts and are less productive. Generally, it is recommended that a mix of varieties is used to ensure that the trees produce a crop all through the year.
Culinary Uses of the Pecan Varieties
Pecan varieties are used in range of dishes. The nut has a strong buttery taste and flavor which makes it ideal for use in cookies, cakes and desserts. However, the actual taste of the nut will depend on the area of cultivation the cultivar that produced the nut.
Popular Pecan Recipes
- Pecan apple cakes are very popular. Chopped apples are mixed with self-raising flour, margarine, cinnamon, and nutmeg and chopped pecans to make a delicate soft cake.
- Chicken tarts with pecans are a popular dish. A thick chicken sauce is poured into a tart shell and garnished with chopped pecans.
- Different varieties of cookies, brownies, sweet dessert bread, pies, and biscotti are made using pecans as a flavoring ingredient in them
Nutritive Value of Pecan Varieties
All pecan varieties are a rich source of proteins and unsaturated fats. The nuts are particularly rich in omega-6 fatty acids, plant sterols, and antioxidants. According to research, eating pecans daily may delay age-related muscle nerve degeneration and aid in lowering cholesterol levels.
Pecan Varieties Buying/Storing Tips
Different pecan varieties are sold online. Generally, the manufacturer will indicate the pecan varieties that are being packed and sold by them. it is also possible to buy pecan varieties directly from growers. A few growers sell a particular pecan variety all year round but other cultivars may only be available during harvest season. It is recommended that pecans be refrigerated as they can last for two years or more. Storing at room temperature is not indicated.
The US produces over 80% of the world’s pecan production. Annual production can range anywhere from 300-400 million pounds. Georgia is the top pecan producing state in the US with an annual production of 60 million pounds.