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Pecan Season on the Alabama Gulf Coast! With Pecan Recipes

Bowl of Pecans

Pecan Season

Late Fall is not just the citrus season on the gulf coast. It is also pecan season. It is the state nut of Alabama. And did you know that the pecan is native to North America, and the US is still responsible for 80% of production each year? It is North America’s Nut.  And maybe most importantly, pecan harvest season is just in time to pick up fresh pecans for all of our holiday treats.

Some History

Pecans are native to North America along the Mississippi, Ohio and Missouri river basins, and the great lakes regions. The English word is derived from multiple tribal and Native American words, specifically Algonquin languages of the midwest and great lakes areas like the Kickapoo “pakanna” or Miami (Illinois) “pakanni”. The word was likely adopted by the French as “Pacane” and then translated to the English “Pecan.”

The pronunciation is often hotly debated. In general, the areas of the country with French settlements in the 1700s more often use the pa-KHAN or Pick-AHN pronunciation which is more similar to the tribal or native american root, and the areas of the country that had more English settlements more commonly use the “PEE-can” pronunciation. Several hundred years of migrations and communications technologies later, and we have a nice hodge podge of pronunciations.

René Chartrand (20 April 2010) The Forts of New France: The Great Lakes, the Plains and the Gulf Coast 1600-1763, Osprey Publishing, p. 7 ISBN: 9781846035043., CC BY-SA 3.0,

Some Nostalgia

As a child, there were a number of pecan trees on our family property and the play yard at school.  We spent hours picking up pecans that would be eaten right off the ground or later made into tasty treats. You learned pretty quickly which ones tested best, which ones were a little bitter, and which ones weren’t edible at all. The ones in the green shells are not ripe yet.  A super light pecan is too old and the meat has begun to shrivel or rot. My great aunt and uncle had all of the cool “picker uppers”. They had a variety of wheel push nut gatherers, turbine, and clamp-type gatherers. 

Shelling pecans was another story. Like picking crabs, it is a labor of love. We would sit on a back porch and shell pecans till our fingers hurt. There were always a few nut cracker tools around, but more often than not, you just put two in your hands and cracked one against the other. If you got on a roll, you’d have your hard “cracker pecan” that you could crack the others against. 

In late adolescence, I had the privilege of working some days on the Cook family pecan farm in Silverhill. It was hard work. Early mornings. Acres of raking and picking up sticks.  But because I grew up with a mother that insisted, if nothing else, that her children not be afraid of hard work including many, many consecutive hours of manual labor in the southern Alabama sun, I loved it. It was often cool in the morning but quite warm by mid-morning. Mrs. Cook made the best ice cold gatorade mixes. 

Pecan harvest season is just in time for holiday pecan pies, cookies, pralines, fudge, and my personal favorite, the pecan tart. I am also a huge fan of the savory roasted nut recipes and homemade snack mixes made with pecans.  Here are some of my favorite pecan recipes.

Some Pecan Recipies

Savory Pecan Snack Mix


  • 1 cup Pecans

  • 1 cup Bagel Crisps

  • ¾ cup Wheat Chex

  • ¾ cup White Chex

  • 1 cup Mini Pretzels

  • 4 tablespoons oil

  • 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (or fish sauce as my husband calls it)

  • ¼ teaspoon Lowry's season salt

  • ¼ teaspoon Garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon Celery powder

  • Optional: Additional salt


Directions should always be short and to the point.

  1. Preheat to 225°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. In a large gallon bag, lightly crush the bagel crisps. You want most of the sizes to be about ¾ of an inch in width. Add all other ingredients and close the bag. Lightly shake the bag until all ingredients have a good coat of oil, worcestershire, and dry seasoning.

  3. Bake in the oven for 55-65 minutes until you achieve your desired crunch level. Enjoy!

Pecan Tarts

Ingredients Tart Pastry

  • 1 stick butter, cut in small cubes

  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened

  • 1 cup flour

  • 2 tablespoons confectioner sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Ingredients Filling

  • ¾ cup chopped pecans

  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed 

  • 1 egg, beaten

  • 1.5  tablespoons of butter, melted

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla


Directions should always be short and to the point.

  1. For the pastry, combine all ingredients until the ingredients stick together in a thick dough. Roll into 1 inch balls and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

  2. For the filling, preheat the oven to 325. Combine all filling ingredients. Allow it to rise a little.

  3. Place balls in mini-muffin cups and form up the sides of each cup to form the shell. Drop the filling into the shells by teaspoon.  Do not overfill.

  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until barely browned. Do not overbake.  You want the filling to look a little wet. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan. Enjoy!


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