Cinnamon Sugared PecansThink of pecans and Georgia groves come to mind but the Peach State traces its reputation in the nut industry to real estate developers who, from the late 1890s to about 1920, sold thousands of five acre tracts of newly planted pecan seedlings to Northerners as retirement investments. The natural range of pecans was further west, from Louisiana to central Texas, north through eastern Oklahoma and Kansas and most of Missouri, north up the Mississippi River bottom lands to southeastern Iowa and central Illinois, up the Ohio River to southern Indiana and western Kentucky, and east to central Tennessee and western Alabama. Its thin shell and large kernel (nearly half the weight of the nut) made it a favorite food for Native Americans and its popularity with European settlers grew when traders and trappers brought the nuts to the east along with their beaver skins--long before American pioneers crossed the Allegheny Mountains. Like the black walnut, the pecan is an excellent shade tree and produces valuable timber as well as nuts.
Nuts or Wood? While any pecan tree can produce nuts, growing trees specifically for nut production differs dramatically from growing for high quality timber. Trees in the nut orchard have short trunks and wide spreading branches: all of the leaf energy is channeled into producing nuts rather than wood. Missouri ranks 14th in pecan production.
So what to do with all these nuts? I had 2 large bags of blown pecans from Shepherd Farms in Missouri. You can read more about their farm here: http://www.shepherdfarms.com/
On to the nuts!
1 Egg white, large
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 cup Granulated sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
1 lb Pecan, halves
1 tbsp Water
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg white with water and vanilla until frothy (white foam). In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add pecans to egg white mixture and toss until evenly coated. Transfer to a gallon Ziplock bag (perfect for a double batch). Pour half of the sugar mixture over pecans and toss several times then add remaining sugar mixture and toss until evenly coated. Pour coated pecans over a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool then store in an airtight container. Storage in an airtight container is essential. Moisture causes the meat of the nut to soften and loose flavor.
We gave small bags of these snacks away as Christmas gifts to family and friends. In most cases, they didn’t even last 1 hour, so little concern about storage!