Did you know that pecans are not even really nuts? I didn’t either. They are actually classified as drupes, which are fruits with one large pit. The pecan is actually the pit. Right. I know. Pretty weird, huh? Anyway, they are delicious no matter what you want to call them. I love pecans and usually put them in all types of recipes such as cookies, stuffing, and salads. You can also grind them up and use them as a seasoning to sprinkle into puddings, ice cream, and on top of frosted cakes and cupcakes. They are actually good for you, too. Sweet without having a high sugar count and salty without having sodium. Delicious as well as healthy. The perfect food.

mixed nuts in their shells

What is Pecan Day?

Pecan Day is a day to celebrate the day in 1775 that Thomas Jefferson gave George Washington a pecan tree to plant in his yard in Mount Vernon. However, according to historians, the Native Americans were the first to use pecans for food. I don’t doubt that because they were pretty smart and started doing a lot of things before we did. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington may have started planting trees early, but the Native Americans knew about this tasty drupe way before they did.

shelled pecans and dried fruit

Weird Pecan Facts

Besides the fact that pecans are not really a nut, there are many other weird facts about them. For example, the name. Pecan actually means “nut you can crack with a stone.” Makes sense, huh? I guess that is one way to do it. Back in the old days, that is how they did it. Now we have machines that do it for us. Another thing to know about pecans. Did you know that Albany, Georgia is the pecan capital of the United States? Yep, they have over 600,000 pecan trees and even hold a National Pecan Festival every year. They have a parade, race, and even crown a National Pecan Queen. Wow. The funny thing is that San Saba Country, Texas claims that they are the pecan capital too. I am not going to choose one. Let’s just say they both are the capitals. One more pecan fact. Pecan trees can live for up to 200 years. Pretty cool, right?

shelled mixed nuts in a bowl

Celebrating with Recipes

Another fun fact. A pecan pie recipe typically calls for 80 pecans. That is a lot of pecans. I am not sure what recipe they are talking about because I have not found one that needs that many. It must be a super-duper drupe pie! Here is a nice easy recipe for pecan pie to celebrate the day:

*1 cup packed brown sugar

*1 1/3 cup butter, melted

*¾ cup light corn syrup

*½ teaspoon salt

*3 eggs

*1 ½ cups pecan halves or pieces

*1 deep dish pie crust (frozen)

Directions:

  1. Heat your oven to 375°F and place a cookie sheet in the oven to preheat.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat corn syrup, butter, brown sugar, salt, and eggs until thoroughly mixed, and then stir in pecans.
  3. Pour this mixture into the frozen crust.
  4. Bake on your preheated cookie sheet for 35 to 45 minutes -- or until the center is set. Be sure to cover crust edges with strips of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning.
  5. Cool for 30 minutes and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

squirrel in a pecan tree

Pecan Games

Another way to celebrate the day is to teach your kids or grandkids about pecans and other nuts (drupes). Play a matching game by cutting out pictures of pecans, acorns, walnuts, peanuts, etc. and pasting them on index cards. Make sure you have two of each picture, so you have a match. Mix them up and place them face-down on the table or floor. Let the kids take turns turning over the cards one at a time. If they find a pair, they can keep going. If not, it is the next person’s turn. You can also take a walk out in the yard and talk about pecan trees and other plants to teach them about gardening and nature. Tell them about the animals that like to eat pecans like squirrels, deer, and birds. Or use some whole pecans (in the shell) to decorate with. Have the kids color them with markers or paint pens, glitter, or whatever else you have handy. This is fun and it won’t hurt the drupe on the inside so you can crack them and eat them later.

colorful songbird

For the Birds

Birds love pecans too. In fact, they love to steal them from the pecan trees and eat them from the ground. They don’t need a rock or a machine to crack them. They just use their sharp beak. Pretty awesome, don’t you think? If you don’t have any pecan trees around, make your birds some pecan and fruit suet. They will flock to your yard for it, trust me. Here is the recipe:

  1. 1 pound of lard
  2. 1/2 cup pecans
  3. 1/2 cup peanut butter
  4. 1/2 loaf of bread
  5. 1/2 cup flour
  6. 1/2 cup cornmeal
  7. 1 cup sugar
  8. 1 finely diced apple, or other fruit

Melt the lard and peanut butter together over low heat. Add the other ingredients and mix together. Pour it into a bread pan and refrigerate for a few hours, until it is solid. Then place it on a plate, put it in a suet holder, or just toss it in the yard. The birds will find it.

cupcake with sparkler

Mixed Up Nuts?

Okay, so those are a few ways to enjoy pecan day. If you all have any other ideas, please post them in the comments below. One more weird pecan fact before I go. National Pecan Day is also considered to be April 14th rather than March 25th. It is a toss-up, really. I checked it out on Google and found that both dates are commonly considered to be the “right” date. So, how about we start celebrating on March 25th and keep on celebrating until April 14th?