From the United States to Valle del Guadalhorce
Pecans are a variety of nuts that come from hickory (Carya illinoinensis). This product is not what we normally think when we talk about walnuts: it is longer and its sehll is smooth and soft, similar to the shell of acorns. This inner part of a pecan is very similar to traditional walnuts, although there are some differences in flavour, since pecans are less bitter and more oily.
The production of pecans in Málaga is located throughout the whole region of Valle del Guadalhorce, where the climate has the perfect conditions for this tree: it alternates between periods of warm weather with periods of cold weather. The most commom variety of pecans grown in Málaga is the ‘Mahan’, with a longer shape, big size, rich flavour and easy peeling. There are some less common varieties in our province such as Western Schley, Pawnee, Wichita, Lakota or Wake. The growing of pecans in Málaga is practically new. However, the production gets bigger every year. Today, there are more than 300 hectares that grow pecans just in the region of Valle del Guadalhorce, where the annual production goes up to 200 tons.
Many farmers have seen in the pecan tree a market oportunitive that could replace citrics, since this tree does not require much care and its fruit is very demanded in the market.
Nutritional value of pecans
Pecans are healthy for every kind of diet, specially for pregnant women (its high content of folic acid is needed for foetal development), to reduce bad cholesterol, to reduce hypertension and to prevent prostate cancer. The energy intake of pecans is also very high (700 calories per each 100 grammes) so the recommended serving per day is just a handful of them. Pecans are 70% fat, 14% carbohidrates, 9% proteins and the rest is water, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. They also contain omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids like the ones present in olive oil.
Pecans come from a tree that is original from the United States. This tree is highly present in the states of Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi and Texas. The pecan tree is the national tree of all these states. Pecans are also common in some regions in Mexico, suchas as Chihuahua, Coahuila and Nuevo León. Its name, however, has an Native American origin and it means “the nut that need a stone to be broken”.
The harvesting time of pecans in Málaga starts in September and ends in January. The main use of the nuts is local consumption, although this nut is getting more and more demanded in the baking industry. It is usual to find pecans in sweets, cakes, pies or salads but they can also enjoyed as a snack like any other nut. It can be bought in packets in many establishments.
The harvesting of pecans in Málaga has caught the interest of farmers in the province. The Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training in Andalucía, through the centre located in Churriana, is carrying out several studies to know more about the adaptation of different varieties of this hickory to the conditions in Málaga. Thanks to these studies, they are also growing some experimental trees to know more about the pecan tree.