Pecans, one of few nuts growing on trees that are native to North America, are a popular choice for snacks and desserts. Recent studies from institutions such as the Mayo Clinic and University of Florida have shown moderate consumption of pecans decreases the risks of age-related neurological diseases, high cholesterol and heart disease. Pecans, however, are a lot like lobsters--their benefits are often overlooked because of the difficulty in removing the meat from the shell. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of options for removing the shells, and some of them may already be in your home.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Pair of pliers, channel locks or vice grips
- Vice or C-clamp
- Small pointed pick
Hammer pecans to shell them if you're feeling brave.The shells can be quite dense and hard, so you'll have to exert a certain amount of force to remove them. A gentle tap with a hammer will crack most shells but often leaves the pecan meat damaged. Use a small pick to remove meat fragments. Hammers are risky for people with small pecans and large fingers.
Use pliers, vice grips or channel locks and apply gentle pressure to crack the lengthwise section of a pecan shell. But beware--this method can lead to splinters of pecan shells flying around. If this is a problem, find some sort of padding, such as a small dish towel, to wrap the pecan and prevent the shells from escaping.
Buy a simple C-clamp from a hardware store. These make excellent pecan shellers, since you can incrementally control the amount of force used to remove the shell. The position of the pecan in the clamp also makes it much more likely that the pecan will split lengthwise, rather than in half.
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