Approximately 90 percent of all the Pecans consumed around the world are either grown or processed in the United States (the bulk of Mexico's production is shipped to, processed and sold by the US). The remaining 10% are grown in South Africa and Australia with minimal production occurring in China, Peru, Chile and Argentina. In the United States, Pecans are produced in 16 southern states from California to North Carolina.
The quality of the pecan is determined by color and the absence of foreign material. The Fancy grade is the highest quality grade. Color is an important factor when determining this grade. Choice grade is the second quality grade. Choice pecans are slightly darker than Fancy. Amber is the third quality grade. They are slightly darker than the Choice grade. There are 7 sizes of halves specified by count per pound and 8 sizes of Pieces. Pecan pieces are sized over round hole screens expressed in 1/64".
Versatility makes the pecan an attractive ingredient to a wider variety of foods than any other nutmeat. Pecans are used in soups, salads, casseroles and desserts. Pecans are an essential ingredient in premium-baked goods, candies, and ice cream. With over 250 varieties to choose from, Pecans can be used to serve whatever your need might be. The most popular varieties of Pecans tend to be Native, Stuart, Desirable, Western, Wichita, and Eastern.
Not only are pecans versatile, they taste great. Further, adding pecans to your diet can dramatically lower cholesterol levels. In recent studies, participants who were placed on a pecan-enriched diet lowered their total and LDL "bad" cholesterol twice as much as they did when they ate the American Heart Association Step I diet. In addition, the pecan-enriched diet lowered blood triglyceride levels and helped maintain desirable levels of HDL "good" cholesterol.
FANCY PECAN HALVES
|Fancy Mammoth Halves||Approximate count per pound is 250 or less|
|Fancy Junior Mammoth Halves||Approximate count per pound is 251 to 300 pecans|
|Fancy Jumbo Halves||Approximate count per pound is 301-350 pecans|
|Fancy Extra Large Halves||Approximate count per pound is 351-450 pecans|
|Fancy Large Halves||Approximate count per pound is 451-550 pecans|
|Fancy Medium Halves||The count per pound is 551-650 pecans|
|Fancy Topper Halves||Approximate count per pound is 651 or more|
FANCY PECAN PIECES
|Fancy Extra Large Pieces||These pieces are larger than 32/64"|
|Fancy Large Pieces||These pieces will pass through a 32/64" hole but will not pass through a 28/64" hole|
|Fancy Medium/Large Pieces||These pieces will pass through a 28/64" screen hole, but will not pass through a 24/64" hole.|
|Fancy Medium Pieces||These pecan pieces pass through a 24/64" hole, but will not pass through a 20/64" hole.|
|Fancy Small/Medium Pieces||The pieces will pass through a 20/64" hole, but will not pass through a 16/64" screen hole.|
|Fancy Small Pieces||These pieces will pass through a 16/64" hole, but will not pass through a 12/64" screen hole|
|Fancy Midget Pieces||These pieces will pass through a 12/64" hole, but will not pass through a 6/64" screen hole|
|Fancy Pecan Meal||The smallest form of the pecan comes in various consistencies ranging from a coarse meal to a fine powder. Use pecan meal to dust cakes, use in dough and batter, and for pecan compounds. Finely ground pecans are incorporated into pastas, added to fillings and used as a thickening agent in sauces.|
The following descriptions from the NPSA's (National Pecan Shellers Association) Voluntary Guidelines for Purchasing Inshell Pecans are appropriate for determining grades.
|Fancy||Bright colored, full bodied, solid|
|Choice||Light weight, bright in color; full bodied, slightly off color.|
|Standard||Amber colored; either full bodied or light weight.|
The defect tolerance for shell, center wall, and foreign material should be 0.01 percent by weight. Exception: Small, Midget, and Granule pieces should be 0.02 percent by weight.