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Pecans: Varieties, Consumption, Storage, and Appearance

Article author photo Elen Khachatrian by Elen Khachatrian | Last updated on August 03, 2023
Medically reviewed by Jack Yacoubian Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian


In this article, we will be discussing pecan and some generalities about it. 

You can also read the article “Nutrition of Pecan”.

Taste and Use

Pecans are widely used as raw ingredients in baked goods, candies, salads, cookies, and pasta. Pecan products are raw or roasted. The nutshells are used to smoke meats, grind and use beauty products, and make ice cream. Ground pecan products, such as pecan meal or pecan flour, are also available.

Pecan nuts are an excellent addition to sweet and savory dishes. Pecan nuts are used in pies and candies, cookies, bread, and ice cream. The seed is pressed to make milk, which is used to thicken soups and season corn cakes.

The milk is also used as alternative milk to the dairy milk. 

How does a pecan look?

Pecan nuts are oval or elliptical. They grow in shucks or husks that crack open once the nuts mature. Pecan shells are dark brown and oval or elongated, with slightly different characteristics such as flavor, texture, size, color, shape, etc.

The nut forms inside a green husk that gradually browns as it dries and the nut matures, and it looks nothing like the finished product – light brown, dark-striped nuts. As the pecans mature, the husks begin to crack open, indicating that the pecans are ready to be picked. The shell of mature pecans is smooth and medium to dark brown.

When pecans fall on wet ground, their seed coat darkens, and the nuts become stale over time.

Storage and Conservation

Pecans are harvested in late September. If handled and stored correctly, pecan nuts harvested in the fall can remain fresh for the next year or until consumed. Good storage aids in the preservation of pecan quality. Pecan kernels should be plump and uniform in size. In-shell pecans can be kept at room temperature for a short time.

If you want to keep it for longer than 4 months, store it in the refrigerator.

Pecans must be frozen if they are to be stored for more than a year, whether in the shell, cracked, or shelled.

Stuff dates with pecans and cream cheese for a sweet treat or appetizer. If you buy pecans in a can, jar, or bag, keep an eye on the expiration date and use them as soon as possible. Store pecans in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to extend shelf life.

Production and Consumption

Incomparable states, improved variety pecan production increased by 10% over the previous year to 242 million pounds. The improved variety of pecans accounted for 92 percent of total pecan production in the United States. Production of native and seedling varieties totaled 22 million pounds, a significant increase over comparable States in 2018. New Mexico had the most used production (96.6 million pounds), followed by Georgia (69.0 million pounds).

Pecans are the third most popular tree nut in the United States, trailing only almonds and English walnuts.

Surprisingly, per capita pecan consumption has remained nearly constant over several decades, ranging from 0.3 to 0.6 pounds. Pecan consumption per person in 2013 was 0.3 pounds.


Pecans come in over 1,000 different varieties. Varieties are frequently named after the location where they were grown, tribes that originated in the area, or creative names chosen by the developer. The most common types are Curtis Pecans, Cape Fear, Desirable, Moreland, Stuart, and Hican Pecans. Shelled pecans should be free of wormholes and damage. Shake the shell to get a sense of its weight and listen for a rattle. Rattling indicates that the nuts inside are dry and no longer fresh. The best-shelled pecans are large in comparison to their size. Pecan trees thrive best in warm climates with adequate water supply, sunlight, and well-nourished soil. And while pecan trees are late bloomers, once they begin to produce nuts, they can continue to do so for 100 years or more.

Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Education: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: August 03, 2023
Medically reviewed by Jack Yacoubian
Data provided by should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.