National Pecan Day Date in the current year: April 14, 2024

National Pecan Day A lot of food days celebrated in the United States are dedicated to foods and dishes that originated elsewhere, but National Pecan Day is as American as it gets because the pecan tree is native to the United States and Mexico. It is celebrated on April 14.

The pecan tree is a species of hickory cultivated for its fruit. Although the edible fruit of the pecan tree are commonly referred to as nuts, they are not true nuts, but technically drupes. The edible nuts of the pecan tree are eaten fresh as a snack and used in various recipes.

The word “pecan” was borrowed from the Algonquin language, where it refers to pecan nuts, hickory nuts, and walnuts. Interestingly, it is pronounced differently in different parts of the United States, and there is no consensus regarding the “correct” pronunciation. Spanish explorers used to call the pecan nues de la arruga (“wrinkle nut”) because of its appearance.

Wild pecans were widely consumed by Native Americans and European colonists, but they weren’t domesticated until relatively recently, although some planters grew pecans in their orchards. They famously included Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

The commercial production of pecans in the United States began in the 1880s; since then, the country has become the world’s largest producer of pecans. Three quarters of the total crop are produced in three states: Georgia, New Mexico, and Texas. The second-highest producer of pecans is Mexico. Australia and South Africa also grow pecans, although they are minor producers compared to the U. S.

Pecan nuts are a rich source of unsaturated fat, protein, dietary fiber, minerals (manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc), and vitamin B1 (thiamine). They also contain provitamin A (beta-carotene), B vitamins other than thiamine (B2, B3, B5, B6, B9), vitamins C, E and K, calcium, iron, potassium, and sodium.

Pecans are valued for their rich, buttery flavor, which makes them perfect for use in various sweet desserts, such as American pralines (a type of candy resembling fudge, which is made of nuts, syrup and milk or cream) and pecan pie, a signature dish of the Southern United States. Pecan pie is commonly baked for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other special occasions.

Pecan nuts are also a source of vegetable oil. Pecan oil is valued for its high unsaturated fat content and neutral flavor, which allows to infuse this oil with various herbs and seasonings. Due to its high smoke point, pecan oil is great for deep frying. At the same time, it is a popular ingredient of dips and salad dressings due to its nutty flavor.

There are many ways to celebrate National Pecan Day. You can bake a delicious pecan pie, indulge in pecan cookies or praline, and even use pecans to make savory dishes, such as pecan-crusted salmon. If you’re not in the mood for cooking, drop by your favorite coffee shop for a maple pecan latte and a slice of pecan pie. Finally, you can celebrate the day by debating the correct pronunciation of the word “pecan” with your friends; just don’t forget to keep your debate friendly!

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National Pecan Day, pecan tree, pecan nuts, American holidays, food days, unofficial holidays