Shelling Pecans - Cracking the Shell Without Crushing the Nut
Pecans are a favorite nut of many people. Not only are they tasty, but they also offer the health benefits that many nuts offer with the vitamins and minerals they contain. Plus, pecans are also believed to contain the highest amounts of antioxidants of any nut. Pecans have a pleasant flavor and texture. The only nut that was originally native to North America, the pecan has now been cultivated in different places around the world. The United States currently produces most of the world's pecans (as much as 80%). As with any nut, the trick in getting at the flavorful nut meat inside is to remove the outer shell. The key to shelling pecans and other nuts is to crack the shell without crushing the nut inside.
There are various ways to try to accomplish the task of shelling pecans. If you have a smaller number of nuts to crack, then you might try to use a simple handheld nut cracker. These can be found at many stores and are inexpensive. Even a pair of pliers that can be adjusted to the size of the nut can work - if you happen to already have pliers like this. A hammer can be used to crack a nut shell against a hard surface. There are also special nut cracking tools that can be used for shelling pecans.
The hammer idea is probably one of the more difficult methods, because it can be hard to hit the nut just right. The hammer method can also be messy, because pieces of nut can fly everywhere if you are not careful. Not to mention that it's easy to hit too hard and smash the nut meat inside. With a little practice, a person can probably get the hang of using a hammer. Probably easier to control, is the handheld nutcracker or even a pair of adjustable jaw pliers. Try to apply pressure along the middle of the nut. The various specialty tools for nut cracking can also be used if you need to deal with large quantities of nuts. When shelling pecans, the key is to try to crack the pecan shell all around the middle, so that you can pull apart the shell lengthwise and get the pecan meats out intact.