Ark of Taste
American Native Pecan
Originally renowned for their tough, difficult to crack shells, the fruits of the American Native Pecan tree are the inspiration for the tree’s name. The entomological root of pecan is 'pacane,' which comes from the Algonquin language and means "nut so hard as to require a stone to crack." Because of current market demands, this name is no longer completely fitting, as pecan varieties are now cultivated to have thin, easily crackable shells.
During its potential 150-year life, each pecan tree produces a nut that is unique in variety, producing millions of distinctive pecan nut flavors. Texas leads the nation in pecan production with an estimated 600,000 acres of trees consisting of 30,000,000 individual trees.
Presently, the pecan is eaten mostly raw or baked into the pecan pie, the epitome of an American dessert. The nut has been a staple food for American Indians who pound the nut into a thin meal and then add water to create a nutritious pecan milk. Pecans are also frequently added to vegetable dishes that included beans, corn and squashes.
Pecans are highly nutritious as they are sodium-free and contain upwards of 19 vitamins and minerals. As a nut with a high protein content, (18% protein content) the pecan is listed on the USDA Food Guide pyramid as a nourishing alternative protein for people on a plant-based diet.
Although not explicitly endangered, the American Native Pecan is at risk and in need of revitalization.