How to Make Sugared Pecans, and How to Talk About Them

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Sugared pecans
pe·can:   a smooth brown nut with an edible kernel similar to a walnut.

Pecans are edible tree nuts. They are native to Mexico and the area around the southern Mississippi River. Pecans are considered 'heart-healthy': they abound in monounsaturated fats such as oleic acid along with phenolic antioxidants as well as vitamins and minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. They taste good, too.

'Pecan' comes from an Algonquian word used to describe nuts that require a stone to crack. We recommend a nutcracker, or one of those muscled guys with strong hands who can crack nuts against each other.

How do you pronounce 'pecan'? It depends on where you come from. As pecans are a North American product, meaning that Europeans get them as part of the Columbian Exchange, we'll let the English speakers of North America decide. Here's a handy map of how to pronounce 'pecan':

How to Pronounce Pecan

However you pronounce them, pecans are nutritious and delicious. Many people enjoy them in pies. However, it is possible to skip all the baking, plus the calories in the pie crust and gooey filling, and enjoy the pecans alone as a sugared treat. We'll show you how it's done.

How to Sugar Pecans

You will need:

  • One pound (450 g) pecans
  • 1 cup (128 g) white sugar
  • 1/4 cup (32 g) brown sugar
  • 1 egg white (metric or otherwise)
  • Cinnamon and salt to taste
  • Parchment paper, a spatula, and a warm oven.
  • An hour or so of your copious free time.

Here's what you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 250° Fahrenheit. (120° C).
  2. Put an egg white1 and a few tablespoons of water (2 if it is raining outside, and 3 if it isn't) in a bowl and whisk.
  3. Put pecans in the bowl and turn them over until all the pecans are wet from the mixture. The egg-white-and-water mixture should cover one pound of pecans nicely.
  4. Add white and brown sugar to the wet pecans.
  5. Cover the wet pecans until the sugar is spread throughout the mixture. This should soak up all the egg-white-and-water mixture.
  6. Sprinkle some cinnamon and toss again, then salt lightly and toss.
  7. Put them on parchment paper on a baking sheet in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn them with a spatula, and put them back in for another 20 minutes.
  8. After that, leave them in for 5-10 minutes each time you turn them until they are roasted and rather dry. They are great warm, and keep very well at room temperature in jars.

These pecans are a great snack. They are vegan if you use a substitute for the egg white (you just want the pecans to be sticky). They are also gluten free. They are mostly healthy. As This Researcher's Mississippi grandmother would have said, 'That little bit of sugar is not going to hurt you.'

1If you raise your own chickens, of course, you'll have plenty of eggs. Scramble the yolk for breakfast.

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