Sunday, November 9, 2008

Clean Pecans

Part of harvesting the pecans is driving them to The Great Pecan Man's orchard to have our pecans cleaned. His machine is so fancy and so cool, the kids love going there. Chojuk loves to see the cogs and wheels spinning. The Snugglebug likes to help on the pickin' table. And the Doodlebug just loves the opportunity to get out of the suburban after an hour and see what kind of trouble she can find. This year, she had a partner in crime with the Baby tagging along behind her.

The kids and I drive a trailer loaded with 6 big supersacks of pecans. Each supersack holds between 600-1000 lbs of pecans depending on how full we stuffed it.

Once we arrive, the guys working there unload the bags with a forklift. If I'm really lucky, they'll start dumping them in the cleaning plant right away. The first step is emptying the bags into this big hole in the floor.

That's me. Pecans and sticks. I haven't figured out a way to market the sticks. But for all you creative folks out there with too much time on your hands, and you know who you are, I'll leave that for you. There's money to be made there. People need sticks, right?

Anyway, the pecans then begin the long voyage up out of the hole in the floor by way of conveyor belt. Chojuk loves conveyor belts. He goes into another world... thinking of how things work. Watching the pecans ride up. The only problem is, it's LOUD in there. He's got really sensitive ears. So he runs around with his fingers in his ears. I'll have to remember to pack his ear plugs next year.

Once they get to the top of one conveyor belt, they get tumbled and brushed, washed and dropped, lifted and dumped. I imagine it's an interesting experience for a pecan.

After they've been scrubbed, they sit in this cylinder for a while. There they wait to be released to the other side where there are friendly farm hands waiting to pick out the icky pecans that wouldn't release it's green shuck. Sometimes the pecan suffers from separation anxiety, Stick Tights to us professionals. They sometimes get to go on the ride again. Other times, they get tossed out for the pigs. I imagine if they knew their fate, they might just let go. Pig slop would not be my choice of ultimate demise.

After being cleaned and picked over, the pecans go to a holding bin to dry. The Great Pecan Man has great big fans that blow air up through the pecans for a few days. When pecans come off a tree, they're a little green... and I'm not just talkin' color here folks. They have too much water in them and need to have some of that water dried off. Anyway, the pecans sit here and sunbathe for a few days until the Great Pecan Man's great daughter can get in there and get a sample. She'll crack a few open and grade them. Just one more reason I am ever so thankful for the Great Pecan Man and his Great family!

Anyway, when the Great Pecan Daughter has deemed the pecans dry enough, they get one more ride on a conveyor belt. There they are blown around a lot! The winners, the ones who are heavy enough to survive being blown around, ride along one last pickin' table where they are carefully checked to make sure they are eatable and not tryin' to sprout. Sprouts are yucky. Don't wanna eat those. Blah!

If you are a pecan grown in the Nutty Forest, you get bagged up in a 50 pound bag and stacked on a pallet. Here you wait some more for some lucky guy to come along and buy you. This year, it seems the lucky guys are all lookin' to Mexico to buy their pecans, so the Great Pecan Man and I are lookin' at oodles and oodles of fresh, clean pecans. This is a first for me. They are usually gone before I even get a chance to see them clean. Now when I go visit the Great Pecan Man, I can visit my entire crop too. See there it is. Three pallets of 50 lb bags. Roughly 15,000lbs of pecans.
For those of you who think that's a lot of pecans, check out what the Great Pecan Man gets to visit everytime HE goes to his barn:

(There are mine, right there in the red bags... ) And then this....

Each of those bags holds between 1500 to 3000 lbs of pecans. Now that's a lot of nuts!

And here's the final product. Pecan anyone?