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  • Writer's pictureKatja

Pecan Nut Harvest

Our beautiful and still-growing pecan nut trees down by the river are beginning to produce copious amounts of nuts. This is fantastic! We had such trouble in the first years, getting the trees to take, then watching as some died because moles ate the roots, then the grafts failed to attach properly to the walnut seedlings... It was a long old haul before the trees reached waist height.

And now we've had the biggest harvest ever! I could see the trees were laden down with fruit so I put the word out, and a number of friends popped down to the finca to lend a hand and get the pecans off the trees. On one day, we had torrential rainfall, which was fine as we stopped early and headed off into town to eat tapas and listen to some music in a local bar. The rest of the week, it was glorious weather so we could continue to harvest the nuts.

Once the pecan nuts were off the tree, the fun really started: husking or, as it's also called, shucking the fruits. This requires time and patience. You do this by hand, and though there are machines that supposedly can do this job for you, I have yet to see one that doesn't break the shell or smash the fruit. So we set up a wooden structure at the back of the house and used it as a makeshift 'husker'. And so we sat, and broke off the outer green covering on the nuts, exposing the brown shell.

An interesting thing about pecans and walnuts is the oil they produce. We wear two sets of surgical gloves, one on top of the other, and then put on a third pair with grip. Even with these three pairs on, the oil manages to seep through and stain our hands. Shucking pecans allows the yellow sap to oxidize on hands and turn them dark brown or black. Unfortunately, while it's possible to lighten the shade of the stain using an abrasive like lava soap, there is really nothing that will remove it. The stain will stay on the skin for weeks. It's funny, but if you go into the village in November, you'll see lots of other people with stained hands. It's a 'thing' around these parts during the pecan harvest.



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