ROCKY MOUNT — Ronnie E. (Conetoe) asks: What is the best temperature and method to store fresh pecans?
Answer: Lowering the moisture content of pecan kernels is an important step for maximum storage life of pecans. Pecans should be stored at a moisture content of about 4 pecent. Shelled pecans stored at non-freezing temperature should be maintained in an atmosphere of about 65–70 percent relative humidity to hold the 3–4 percent moisture content. Humidity above these values can cause kernel molding and pecan texture deterioration (pecans become soft and rubber-like), whereas lower humidity will cause excessive drying. In-shell pecan kernels will darken under high humidity as a result of the tannic acid being dissolved from the shell lining.
Lower temperatures usually result in longer storage life of nuts. Pecan pieces have a shorter shelf-life than pecan halves. This time reduction is in proportion to the surface exposure of the pieces. Storage of nutmeat pieces should be limited to 1 or 2 months at temperatures about 32°F. The greatest benefit of storing at low temperature is retention of fresh flavor, followed by color, aroma and texture.
Because pecan meats absorb odors and flavors readily from the surroundings, a storage area free of odoriferous materials and commodities is necessary In-shell pecans can remain good for 4 months at 70°F, but can be stored successfully for 18 months at 32°F to 36°F. Storage life of in-shell nuts may extend to 5 years or more when stored at 0°F. Learn more at: http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h/H-620.pdf
Don A. (Leggett) asks: (While we’re on the subject of pecans), How many years will it take for a Stuart pecan to bear nuts? We live in the southeast and just planted one.
Answer: Stuart is a good disease-resistant variety of pecan for the southeast, although the variety Elliott might have been a better choice (smaller pecan but higher quality). Stuart takes a long time to bear pecans, at least eight to 10 years. If you take good care of it by watering, fertilizing, and controlling weeds, this time will be shortened somewhat. Elliott comes into production in six to eight years.