Pecans – nuts of American Indians
Every species of nut usually has its own interesting history, as people used nuts from the very ancient times, when they were one of the main foods.
During the time of collecting our remote ancestors looked for eatable fruits, berries and nuts in the area where they lived. American pecan nut is not an exception, its first admirers were the ancient Indians, who not only used it for food, but collected it as well.
The pecan has some more names: pecan hickory, carya illinoinensis and carya pecan. All these names mean the deciduous tree, reaching the hight of 30-40 metres and letting out beautiful aments with tiny inflorescences during the flowering period. The Pecan grows in the south-eastern USA districts, is used in a traditional American cuisine, so it can be rightly seen the most American nut.
Yet, before the Columbus discovery of America, pecan was the main food of its native people – the Indians. Nuts were found across the board, thanks to a solid shell they were perfectly kept and served as a good alternative variant to meat in a failed hunt or durable distances.
While migrating from place to place, Indian tribes planted groves of nut trees around their villages, which began to bear fruits in several years. As specialists claim, the Indians were selecting nut trees: they chose best grains with a large core, thin shell and they got new sprouts. While the pecan tree bore fruits up to 300 years, it could have served to several generations.
The consistence and useful properties of pecan nuts
Pecan nut is sometimes called “olive nut” because of its inner similarity with olive fruits, however being cleaned it more resembles a winding walnut kernel. In comparison to walnut the pecan has more thin shell without partitions, so the kernel is easily taken out. By its taste it also resembles a walnut, but pecan is softer and almost doesn’t have any bitter taste.
Pecan belongs to the most fatty and high calorie nuts, there are about 700kcal in 3.53oz, 70 % of plant oils, 15 % of protein. Fats are presented in useful unsaturated fatty acids, feeding the brain, preventing the development of atherosclerosis and diminishing the risk of stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
Here we can see only part of main useful properties, which are contained in the pecan nut:
● Potassium, magnesium, natrium, phosphorus – strengthening heart muscle and nervous system, regulating the balance of fatty acids;
● Zinc that promotes regeneration of tissues, takes part in forming of bones, improves reproduction and the state of mucous membranes;
● B group vitamins – make possible the normal functioning of nervous system and provide conduction of nerve impulses;
● A vitamin – is responsible for regeneration of skin integument and sight, especially night and twilight eyesight.
● E vitamin strengthens and makes walls of vessels elastic. Moreover, pecans are rich in particular unique form of E vitamin that 2 times increases the level of gamma-tocopherol in blood, which considerably reduces inflammation of arteries and risk of cholesterol plaques.
As the specialists claim by regularly using pecans the exchange of cholesterols considerably improves and the risk of developing of gallstone disease reduces. And American scientists have attributed the pecan to super products, by using which we are protected against some kinds of cancer.
Using pecans for food
Pecan nut can be eaten raw, dried and fried. In its native land, the USA the pecan is widely used in cooking confectionery, including the famous praline dessert.
On Christmas and Thanksgiving Day the festive table of Americans is decorated by traditional pecan pie that has sweet custard from molasses or corn syrup with pecan nuts in its filling. New Orleans is considered to be the native land of pecan pie as it is right the place where French colonists found out from the local Indians about the new type of nut and first began cooking the pecan pie.
However the use of pecans is not limited by only confectionery. Another thing is that its founders – the ancient Indians, have learnt how to make nourishing milk from the nut, which is especially useful for children, weakened and elderly people.
It’s very easy to be made even today: we pound pecans in a mortar or coffee grinder and thoroughly mix it with water till you get homogeneous tender milk.
Generally speaking pecans are frequently used when cooking tasty and unusual beverages: one makes coffee with ground nut, prepares citrus juices, on pecans one extracts luxury liquors.
Special attention deserves pecan oil that has medical properties. The golden oil with tender smack of nuts is obtained by cold pressing method making it possible to preserve all the nutrients contained in pecan’s fruit.
Nut oil is used both for external and internal application. All nut’s nutrients in oil are in concentrated condition, so its use has the same positive effect as use of fresh nuts.
It resembles an olive oil by taste and goes well with cheese, fish, rice, mushrooms, poultry, may serve as wonderful salad dressings.
Use of pecan oil in cosmetology
Pecan oil is widely used in cosmetology as a moisturizing, nourishing, toning and rejuvenating means. The oil increases the ability of skin to recover after skin irritation, sunburn, acnes and insects’ bites, heals micro cracks and prevents mycotic infection. The thinnest protective foil which is formed on the skin after using the oil protects it from unfavorable inner impact and at the same time doesn’t clog up pores.
Due to the fact that the oil provides good sliding it is widely used as means for massage. Many cosmetic producers of cosmetics include the oil into the consistence of cosmetic agents, especially into care agents for dry and mature skin.
Contraindications for using pecan nuts
The only contraindication is the idiosyncrasy of nuts. People who are prone to allergic reactions and also people who have problems with fatty degeneration of liver should be careful with it.
As for pecans and any other nuts it’s important to keep the measure: the daily norm of pecans must not go beyond 3.53oz provided with absence of other fatty foods in the ration.
How to choose and keep pecans
It’s more preferable to buy the pecans in a vacuum package, paying attention to the expiration date and the looks of nuts. They should be intact and shouldn’t have a rank smell.
The nuts have very thick shell through which no plant pests penetrate and almost no air comes, so unshelled nuts can be kept during the year.
Experts claim that the pecan can be unshelled easier if it is pre-freezed.
Unshelled nuts become ranked faster and absorb outside smells therefore they should be kept in densely closed and better vacuum container in the fridge no more than two months, and in the freezer – no more than half a year.
Nowadays the nuts of American Indians grow not only in the USA, but also in Canada, Crimea, Middle Asia, so it’s not difficult to buy them. Let them become welcomed guests on your table, giving you health and long life.
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