Upcoming Events



Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving background, Harvest vintage and country style

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night, for health and food, for love and friends, for everything thy goodness sends. For flowers that bloom about our feet, for tender grass, so fresh, so sweet; for song of bird, and hum of bee; for all things fair we hear or see, Father in heaven, we thank thee.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

Teatime Tassies

A high angle close up shot of several pecan mini tarts sitting on one of great grandma's 1800's vintage French cooling rack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Try this wonderful recipe for the holidays!

 

1 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese                                 1 egg

1 stick margarine, softened                                1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour                                        1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1 cup brown sugar

 

Cream together cream cheese and margarine.  Using  a spoon, stir in flour to make soft dough and roll into 24 balls, about the size of walnuts.  Using a small cup muffin tin, press each ball into cups and chill one hour.  Meanwhile, beat together sugar, egg, and vanilla until frothy.  Stir in nuts.  Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Bake in a preheated 300′ F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Yield:  24 tassies

 

Source: Mrs.  Laura Rogers’ St.  Clair County High School Home Economics Class.  (I’ve made lots of these since high school-so esay and absolutely delicious!  A must for the holidays!)

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

4-H News!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How much do you know about…4-H and Positive Youth Development?

  • 4-H provides opportunities for youth development and for youth to develop skills, practical knowledge, and wisdom through observing, doing, and living through experiences.
  • The 4 H’s are Head, Heart, Hands, and Health.
  • 4-H emphasizes the practical application of knowledge or “learning by doing” to develop skills and acquire a sense of responsibility, initiative, and self-worth.
  • For more than a century, 4-H has made a tremendous impact on many lives and has continued to expand programming while transferring the latest research of the land grant system to young people.
  • The educational foundation for the 4-H Youth Development Program lies in three areas that are tied to the land grant universities and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). 4-H curriculum and activities engage youth in processes of discovery and exploration through hands-on learning. Within the three mandates below are numerous project areas individuals choose to pursue – from astronomy to financial literacy, market beef to safety, health to agronomy, and everything in between.

 

Here are highlights of our 4-Her’s and how much fun they had this year while learning, growing and building relationships with others!

 

Kayaking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horse Show

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Youth Council

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sewing Workshop


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Canning Workshop

Paper Clover Drive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Camp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Community 4-H Club coming to the Pelham/Alabaster/Helena area!

Open to kids grades 4-12 and even to Cloverbuds, grades K-3.

Monthly meetings will last approximately 1 hour and subjects with vary.

Time and place TBD, but please contact Charity Battles if you are interested or would like more information as it comes available.

Caw0046@aces.edu or 205-532-1246

 

Also accepting volunteers!

 

Thank you to all of our volunteers that step up to help in our clubs and programs! We appreciate all that you do; it does not go unnoticed.

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

 

 

Kids and Food Preservation for Holiday Gifts

Preparing Homemade Strawberry, Blueberry and Raspberry Jam and Canning in Jars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the holidays approach, spend some time in the kitchen with kids and make some jams and jellies or other items for them to give as gifts.  You will be giving them a gift that will last a lifetime too with some great memories.

Do you have a hard time buying gifts for family and friends during the holiday season? Here is an idea for this holiday season: Grab your kids and head into the kitchen to prepare some homemade preserved gifts. Food preservation is a science allowing kids to explore and understand the science of safe food preservation, so lifetime skills are being learned and experienced in the kitchen.  Starting with jams and jellies is a great way to begin preserving with youth. Jam’s high acidity, large amount of sugar, and lack of available water slow the growth rate of microorganisms like mold, but freezing or boiling water canning is needed to fully stop spoilage.

There are a wide variety of recipes available allowing you and your children to select favorite flavors to prepare for homemade gifts.  You want to make sure to follow recipes that you get from a trusted source like the Extension Service and the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  Other websites like Pinterest or Facebook might not be USDA tested recipes and they may not recommend for you to water bath can your jams and jellies after filling your jars.  A safe jellied product is one that is water bath canned which creates a vacuum seal that allows your jellied products to set on self and not mold or create yeast which will spoil your product.

It is also critical to remember when teaching youth to use current, research-based methods for preserving food at home. Paraffin or wax sealing of jars is no longer considered an acceptable method for preserving any jellies. Any pinholes or cracks in the wax paraffin can allow airborne molds to contaminate and grow on the product.

For proper texture, jellied fruit products require the correct combinations of fruit, pectin, acid, and sugar. The fruit gives each spread its unique flavor and color. It also supplies the water to dissolve the rest of the necessary ingredients and furnishes some or all of the pectin and acid. Good-quality, flavorful fruits make the best jellied products.

These are a few of my favorite recipes for giving at Christmas time for gifts:

Ginger Pear Preserves

Pears with lime and gingerroot combine to make a delicately flavored preserve with an exotic island taste.

You will need:

5-1/2 cups finely chopped cored peeled pears (about 8 medium)
Grated zest and juice of 3 limes
2-1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp freshly grated gingerroot
7 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands

Yield: About 7 (8 oz) half pint jars

Directions:

  • 1.)PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
    2.) COMBINE pears, lime zest and juice, sugar and gingerroot in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and test gel. If preserves break from spoon in a sheet or flake, it is at the gel stage. Skim off foam. If your mixture has not reached the gel stage, return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, for an additional 5 minutes. Repeat gel stage test and cooking as needed.
    3.) LADLE hot preserves into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
    4.) PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

 

Apple Preserves

  • 6 cups peeled, cored, sliced apples
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 package powdered pectin
  • ½ lemon, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg or cinnamon or allspice

Yield: About 6 half-pint jars

 

 

Procedure: Combine apples, water and lemon juice in a large saucepot. Simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Stir in pectin and bring to a full rolling boil, stirring frequently. Add lemon slices (optional) and sugar. Return to a full rolling boil. Boil hard 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; add nutmeg. Pour hot preserves into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a Boiling Water Canner for 10 minutes.

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

Beating Fire Ants This Fall

Fall is a great time to treat fire ants.

“Fall is a great time to treat fire ants,” Dr. Kathy Flanders, an Alabama Cooperative Extension Entomologist said. “Fall temperatures are perfect for fire ant activity and foraging, making it an opportune time to put out fire ant bait.”

While the warm weather is rolling out and cooler air moves in, fire ants are still actively foraging. Fire ants look for protein-rich foods all year, but especially in the late spring and early fall.  Foragers usually continue searching for food until temperatures drop below 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Using treatment plants like the Two-Step Methodcan provide specific and continued control of fire ants, in a cost-effective way.

Fall is an important time to protect livestock from fire ants.

Researchers have developed an interactive, customized management tool for managing fire ants in pastures and fields. Use of the management tool will allow for a cost-effective application of pesticides in hopes of knocking out a significant portion of the fire ant population before the winter season. There are also resources available with specific guidelines for management of fire ants in a livestock operation.

Dragging pastures is not a sure or complete fire ant control method, but dragging a pasture before a freeze could help control the fire ant spread in that area.

High traffic areas can include calving areas and hay storage areas. Flanders said young livestock are very vulnerable targets, but caution and diligent treatment can help prevent damage by fire ants.

Fire ants will be looking for a warm place to overwinter.

Double-checking door seals, pipe coverings and concrete foundations can help prevent a home invasion in the winter. As temperatures drop, fire ants begin searching for warm places to spend the cold months. Often, this means mounds inside the house or built against the foundation.

Alabama Cooperative Extension professionals developed management options for treating fire ants inside homes and buildings. The first and most important suggestion: treat fire ants in the surrounding landscape to prevent fire ant infestations near the home. This publication includes product names and uses, and tips for fire ant control in the home.

Fire ants may be in your pile of leaves, wood stack or winter garden.

Outdoor temperatures determine the amount of activity present in a fire ant mound. When the temperatures are right, leaf or compost piles, wood stacks and winter gardens are all likely hiding places for fire ants.

Flanders said it is important to check for fire ants before playing, working or carrying wood inside. A proactive approach to controlling fire ants in these areas would be best. This is also a time to consider a slow-acting bait for continued control going into the cold season. Treat the areas before piling up leaves to play in or for compost, treat your preferred firewood location and treat your garden before planting.

Working with neighbors or surrounding landowners can boost your chances of knocking a dent in the population.

Fire ant control is more effective when larger areas are treated. When an 80-90% control rate is acceptable, consider participating in a community- or neighborhood-wide treatment program. If the problem is widespread, a large treatment plan could be more effective than treating in small areas. Flanders said Extension professionals have developed a community-wide management program that is available for use and implementation. Find the program here.

More information can be found on the Alabama Fire Ant page and Extension Fire Ant Community of Practice page, including fire ant treatment optionsnews and tips.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Staying Safe While Hunting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hunting safety is always a top priority regardless of game, ammo or method.  In Alabama, bow season is open now and gun season opens in mid-November for deer.

Marisa Lee Futral, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources hunter education coordinator, says follow key guidelines for a safe hunting experience.

Ten Commandments of Firearm Safety

  1. Treat every firearm with the same respect as a loaded firearm.  If you become careless with unloaded guns, you will soon become careless with loaded guns.
  2. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
  3. Identify your target and what is behind it before you shoot.  Never shoot at movement.  Make sure you know what is behind your target before you shoot.
  4. Be sure the barrel and action are clear of obstructions. Only have ammunition of the proper size for the firearm you are carrying.
  5. Unload firearms when not in use.  Leave the action open.  Firearms should be carried unloaded and in a case to and from the shooting or hunting area.
  6. Never point a firearm at anything you do not wish to destroy.
  7. Never climb a fence or tree or jump a ditch with a loaded firearm.  Always unload the firearm before you cross a ditch, and never pull a firearm towards you by the muzzle.  Never lean a firearm against a tree, fence, wall or automobile.
  8. Never shoot a bullet at a flat, hard surface or at water.  Bullets can ricochet at odd angles.
  9. Store firearms and ammunition separately. Keep them beyond the reach of children and inexperienced adults.
  10. Never mix gunpowder with alcohol or drugs.  No one should drink alcoholic beverages or take drugs while hunting. Never go hunting with anyone that does.

Main Causes of Accidents while Hunting

Bence Carter, an Alabama Extension regional forestry and wildlife agent identified the three main causes of accidents while hunting.

  • Tree stand accidents
  • Failing to properly identify a target
  • Self-inflicted accidents

“When using tree stands, hunters should wear a harness,” said Carter. They should also use something to pull up their bow or gun, such as a rope.” Alabama regulations now require all hunters utilizing a treestand on wildlife management areas to wear a full body harness.

Another tip for hunter safety is properly identifying yourself.

“Wearing blaze orange identifies that you are a hunter,” he said. “This is the most effective way to identify yourself to other hunters.”

Alabama hunting laws require deer hunters personsto wear an outer garment above the waist with a minimum of 144 square inches of hunter orange or either a full-size hunter orange hat or cap. Hunters are not required to wear hunter orange when hunting from a stand ­elevated 12 feet or more from the ground, when hunting in an enclosed box stand, when ­traveling in an enclosed vehicle, or when traveling on foot no more than 20 feet ­directly between an operating enclosed vehicle and a stand where the hunter is exempt from the hunter orange requirement.

A small logo and/or printing is permitted on the front of hunter orange caps; otherwise, hunter orange must be of solid color and visible from any angle. Only hunter orange, commonly called blaze orange, is legal.

To prevent injuries, hunters should always put safety first. Following these guidelines will ensure a safe and successful hunting season.

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

FOOD SAFETY FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Thanksgiving dinner. Roasted turkey with pumpkins and sunflowers on wooden table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is a foodborne illness?

Food contaminated by bacteria, viruses and parasites can make you sick. Many people have had foodborne illness and not even known it. It’s sometimes called food poisoning, and it can feel like the flu. Symptoms may include the following: stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever. Symptoms can start soon after eating contaminated food, but they can hit up to a month or more later. For some people, especially young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, foodborne illness can be very dangerous.  No one wants to spend the holidays in the Hospital or for that matter feeling miserable.  The Centers of Disease Control estimates that there are as many as 13 million cases of foodborne illness in the US every year. Most cases of foodborne illness can be prevented by using safe food handling practices and using a food thermometer to check that your food is cooked to a safe internal temperature!

It’s always important to keep foods out of the danger zone, which is between 41°F and 135°F to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. To do this, just keep hot foods hot, at least 135°F and keep cold foods 40°F or lower.  Make sure you have a good food thermometer to check foods for safety.

 

Preparing and serving holiday buffets

Do not let foods linger during preparation, cook them thoroughly and serve them promptly. Keep hot foods hot with warming trays, chafing dishes or crock pots. Keep cold foods cold by placing serving dishes on crushed ice.

Remember the “2-hour rule” especially when entertaining with a large meal or buffet. Don’t let perishable foods linger for longer than two hours in the danger zone.

Keep replacement dishes of hot food in the oven and extra cold foods cold in the refrigerator or a cooler during the buffet.

Do not add new food to a serving dish that has been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours. Remember also to change serving utensils too.

Provide serving spoons and tongs for every dish served. Even finger foods, such as cut vegetables, candies, chips/nachos and nuts, should have serving implements to prevent cross contamination between guests.

 

Traveling with food

Wrap hot food in foil and heavy towels, or carry in insulated containers to maintain a temperature of at least 135°F.

Store cold foods in a cooler with ice or freezer packs to maintain the temperature at 41°F or below. Full coolers keep their temperature better than partially full ones, so add extra insulation to take up unoccupied space. This also prevents containers from sliding, falling over and leaking.

 

Turkey Basics

When preparing a turkey please allow plenty of time for thawing and cooking.  Be aware of the four main safety issues: thawing, preparing, stuffing, and cooking to adequate temperature.

Safe Thawing –  turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature. The “danger zone” is between 41 and 135°F — the temperature range where foodborne bacteria multiply rapidly. While frozen, a turkey is safe indefinitely, but as soon as it begins to thaw, bacteria that may have been present before freezing can begin to grow again, if it is in the “danger zone.”There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold running water, and in a microwave oven.

Safe Preparation  – bacteria present on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces as you prepare the turkey. If these areas are not cleaned thoroughly before working with other foods, bacteria from the raw poultry can then be transferred to other foods. After working with raw poultry, always wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces before they touch other foods.

Safe Stuffing – for optimal safety and uniform doneness, cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish.

Safe Cooking – set the oven temperature no lower than 325°F and be sure the turkey is completely thawed.  Please stay away from recipes or directions that say cook overnight at a temperature less than 325°F. Place turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2-1/2 inches deep. To make it more juicy you can use an oven cooking bag.  Check the internal temperature at the center meaty portion of the breast, thigh, and wing joint using a food thermometer. Cooking times will vary. It usually takes The food thermometer must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. For easier carving let the turkey stand 20 minutes after removing it from the oven.

 

 

Eggnog and other recipes with raw or lightly cooked eggs

Be sure to handle and prepare these tasty treats safely. Commercial, ready-made eggnog is prepared using pasteurized eggs and does not require heating. Homemade eggnog may contain harmful bacteria if not prepared properly. Prepare homemade eggnog using pasteurized egg products, found in most grocery stores.

If you choose to make eggnog with whole eggs, be sure to heat the egg-milk mixture to at least 165°F. Refrigerate promptly, once steaming stops, dividing large amounts into shallow containers so that it cools quickly.

Precautions should also be taken with sauces, mousses, and any other recipes calling for raw or lightly-cooked eggs. Use pasteurized egg products, or bring egg-mixtures to a uniform temperature of 165°F.  All of these foods must be stored in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

Cider

Popular holiday beverages, such as unpasteurized apple cider and other drinks made from unpasteurized apple cider may pose a safety risk since they may contain harmful bacteria.

Serve pasteurized ciders or bring unpasteurized cider to a rolling boil before serving. This is especially important when serving cider to children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.

 

 

 

Leftovers: Storage and Reheating

While it is tempting to leave turkey and other foods at room temperature for snacking after a meal, you should refrigerate all leftovers promptly in uncovered, shallow containers so they cool quickly. Refrigerate once steaming stops and leave the lid or wrap loosely until the food is cooled to refrigeration temperature. Avoid overstocking the refrigerator to allow cool air to circulate freely.

Store turkey meat separately from stuffing and gravy.

Reheat solid leftovers to at least 165°F. Bring gravy to a full, rolling boil and stir during the process.

Use leftover turkey meat, bones, stuffing, gravy and other cooked dishes within four days for best quality or freeze for later use.

 

Giving and Receiving Gifts of Food

It’s lots of fun to get a package through the mail. During this season, many of the packages contain gifts of food – either homemade or from mail order businesses.

Whether it’s baked goods, fruit, candy, shelf-stable canned items, or perishable items like cheese, meats or sausages, it’s always a great idea to know how to tell if its’ safe to eat and what to do with the food once you open the package.

So if you’re giving or receiving, here are a few food safety tips to keep in mind for these special gifts.

Ordering Food Gift Boxes or Baskets safely

Ask the company how the food will be mailed. If it’s perishable, it should be delivered as quickly as possible. Ideally, this would be overnight.

Also make sure that the outer package of the perishable food will be marked “KEEP REFRIGERATED”.

It’s also a good idea to ask if the food items will come with storage and preparation instructions.

Finally, let your friends know that you’re sending a gift in the mail, so that the food items are handled appropriately. If you’re mailing to a business address, make certain the package will be delivered during business hours.

Receiving Gifts of Food in the Mail

When you receive a food that is labeled “Keep Refrigerated”, open it and check the temperature immediately. It should be at least refrigerator cold to the touch and ideally still partially frozen with visible ice crystals. If the food items are warm, you should notify the company. Do not consume the food. It is the shipping company’s responsibility to deliver the food on time and your responsibility to have someone at home to receive the product.

Remember to refrigerate or freeze the food items immediately after opening.

Mailing Perishable Food

Food items that are frozen first will stay in a safe temperature range for a longer period of time. After freezing, the food should be packed with a frozen gel pack or purchased dry ice. The frozen food and cold source can then be packed in a sturdy box made of heavy foam or corrugated cardboard.

Fill up any air space in the box with crushed paper or foam “popcorn”. Label your package “PERISHABLE – KEEP REFRIGERATED”, arrange a delivery date with the recipient, and ship the package overnight.

 

For Questions concerning Holiday Food Safety please contact Angela Treadaway Regional Extension Agent from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System by email treadas@aces.edu or by phone at 205-410-3696.  Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season.

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Garden Talk: Plinking on the Roof By: Andrew J. Baril

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It began again this past weekend.  Like clockwork, in the middle of the night, before the rays of sunlight early Saturday morning, I heard a plunk on our roof.  This is a sound I know well.  My wife and I have been living in our little mountain cabin for over ten years now.  I’ve heard this sound before.  For the months of October and November, I will be hearing the plinking of oak acorns and hickory nuts on our metal roof.

Here at our Talladega cabin we have a host of oak trees.  We have black, blackjack, cherrybark, chestnut (mountain), northern red, post, southern red, water, white, and willow oaks.  We also have mockernut, pignut, and shagbark hickories along with a whole host of additional hardwoods.  According to one of Extension’s publications; “Management of Hardwood Forests for Timber in Alabama”, we have around 200 different hardwood species in Alabama, including 25 oaks and 8 hickories.  Because Southern Pines so dominate our timber industries, many people tend to overlook hardwoods.  However, based on US Forest Service inventory research, hardwoods comprise the majority of Alabama’s standing timber volume.

Most of our forest wildlife friends value these hardwoods for food and shelter.  Most of the food value is found in the leaves and seeds.  Leaves are eaten mainly by insects that in turn are eaten by other creatures.  The seeds are eaten by both small and large alike.  How many times have we walked through the woods, picked up seemingly good acorns, only to later find a caterpillar in them?  Yes, insects feed on the seeds too!  Most often when we in Alabama think of acorns and nuts, we think of deer, turkey, and squirrels.  Squirrels need large trees to survive.  Squirrels live off seed sources from hickories, oaks, and pines.  Deer and turkey are different.  They require a variety of habitats.  They like both field and forest.  During the fall, acorns and nuts provide the needed fat in their diets to help see them through the lean days of winter.  Humans can also consume acorns, but they are not as tasty as your cultivated pecans.  The meat inside the shell contains higher levels of tannic acid than what we are accustomed.  Indians used to collect acorns from white and chestnut oaks along with American chestnuts, black walnut, and wild pecan as a food source for the long winter months. As a side note; within the white oak family (oaks that produce white lumber) the acorns mature in one year, while those in the red oak family (pink lumber) take two years to produce mature acorns.  Also, white oak family acorns tend to be larger than the red oak acorns.

Fall is my favorite season of the year.  Cool Canadian air, leaves a changing on the hillsides, and college football, for me, it all began this weekend with a single plink on my roof.

Garden Talk is written by Andrew J. Baril of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, C. Beaty Hanna Horticulture & Environmental Center, which is based at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  This column includes research-based information from land-grant universities around the country, including Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities.  Email questions to ajb0012@auburn.edu, or call 205 879-6964.

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator.  Everyone is welcome!

Fall is Pecan Time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pecans are a staple in many recipes. To ensure you have the best quality nuts for your next dish, harvest pecans as they drop from the trees.  Do not wait and try to harvest them all at one time at the end of the season.

“Harvest your pecans promptly for best quality. Don’t let them lie on wet ground for extended periods of time,” said Doug Chapman, a regional commercial horticulture agent with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

As soon as pecans fall from the tree they begin to dry and cure. This process improves the quality of the nuts until they reach their optimum appearance, aroma, flavor and texture. If the nuts get wet after initial drying the seed coat will darken and the oil in the kernel increases the fatty acid levels. This condition causes the nut to be stale and rancid. Take pecans to a dry location inside.

“Drying is one of the most important steps in assuring a high-quality appearance and flavor in pecans,” Chapman added. “If possible, spread pecans out in a dry, moderately warm place and dry several days before storing. Once dried to a crisp texture, pecans should be refrigerated or frozen.”

Crack and shell your pecans as soon as possible. Shelled pecans can also be frozen until you are ready to use them.

Storing pecans

Pecans stored below freezing can keep for two years. Be sure kernels are dried properly before freezing. Lay the nuts out several days in a warm, dry place. Kernels should be crisp and break easily in half if dried properly.

 “Don’t store pecans in packages with apples or other fruits,” he said. “Also, don’t store them in rubber-like packages or in rooms that may be musty.”  Pecans absorb gases from the storage atmosphere, which can change the flavor and the pecan’s stability.

Caring for your pecan trees in the fall

If you need to apply lime or zinc to pecan trees, fall is a good time to do so. Soil testing will provide detailed instructions on fertilizing and liming. Clean up and destroy pops, shucks, leaves and limbs to reduce pest problems.

Pest problems

If trees have lost leaves by Nov. 1 because of aphids, downy spot, pecan scab or other damage, expect to see a reduced pecan crop next year.

 

Featured image by Mike Donenfeld/Shutterstock.com

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

4-H Clover fundraiser. The Fall 2017 Paper Clover will take place October 4 – 15.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!