Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pecan Picking Time in Georgia--Guest Starring Linda Calendrillo!

My wife Linda showed me a letter that she was sending to her nephew Matt Calendrillo and his wife Katie, and I said, "Linda, this has to be a blog!" Linda was sceptical.

All she had done, she said, was write a letter to Matt and Katie thanking them for sending her some nuts that they picked near their home in Pennsylvania.
I said, "No. It's more than that. It's perfect blog material about something you love--Pecan Picking."
She looked at me and said, "Well, you're the one famous for blogging. Go ahead."

Here's the letter she wrote:

Dear Katie and Matt,

How can it be that it's taken me so long to thank you for your nuts?!? First, I had a problem finding your email addresses. Then, I lost your phone number, so that plan went belly up. But I finally found your email address.
So back to the nuts.
PA nuts are scrawny compared to GA nuts (GA squirrels are scrawny compared to PA squirrels, so all this makes no sense to me), but nuts are nuts and we did enjoy investigating the ones you sent and eating them. Are you still picking them up? Is the later crop bigger? Thinner shelled (boy, they were hard to crack)? Less oily?

We are having a boom year here and have big vats of nuts all over our garage. I am hoping John will make the trip today to sell nuts and have other nuts cracked and blown. In GA, we have odd little seasonal businesses that set up to prep nuts for individuals. We pay around 50 cents a pound to have the nuts cracked and blown so that we can then easily separate the shells from the meat of the nut to freeze them.

You can imagine that we're talking volume here. I bet we'll have around 20 pounds cracked today. We had 12 pounds cracked a couple of weeks ago.

When we get the pecans after they've been cracked and blown, they come to us in two paper sacks. In one bag, there are mostly nuts. In the other bag, there are mostly shells. The job comes in when we need to separate the nuts from the shells. Separating the nuts from the shells is important work. If we're not careful, we get shells in the cookies and crunch down on shells when we eat a handful of nuts as a snack.

I'm giving you this background in the hopes that as kindred nut-picking spirits you'll be able to share the wild ways of the PA nut traditions.

We also have large businesses that buy nuts from us locals and sell them to Northerners (known here as yankees, with a derisive slur). These businesses pay us about 50 cents a pound, and I suspect we'll have well over a hundred pounds to sell today. Our biggest year was 400 pounds.

We may hit that this year again if John and I can keep our backs in working order. Bending down to pick up pecans is not for babies!

In fact, working with pecans is work!

Saturday, I spent three hours on the roof of our garage harvesting nuts, by the way. If you have a roof, with nut trees overhanging it, you might consider going up there to check out your crop.

So much for nuts.

I need to get back to work.


Aunt Linda


joe glaser said...

Yay, Linda. John's made a blogger out of you! Perfect preparation for retirement.

Love, Joe

Anthony C. said...

As a fellow Calendrillo, I can say there is no shortage of nuts in our lineage...


Anonymous said...

Thus proving all the nuts aren't in the trees. Some of them are on your roof!

When I have been in GA and AL, I have seen many pecan products. The most interesting one to me, as a Person of Southern Heritage Transplanted At An Early Age To The North (I am NOT a Yankee!!), was pecan meal, ie, finely ground up pecans. What does one use them for?

Anonymous said...

Hi, Lisa,

Thanks for reading my blog about pecan picking.

Pecan meal?

You can use it in place of flour in many baking recipes, and you can use it in place of breadcrumbs in just about any recipe.

But you have to be flush in pecans to start thinking about using pecan meal.

Urkat said...

"No shortage of nuts..."--haha. That was a good one.

Oma J said...

Save your back, guys! Try this little gadget.


You do give a whole new meaning to the term "being nuts." HA! I learned lots about nuts though. THANKS for sharing!

John Guzlowski said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Oma.

I see people using these things and we've thought of buying one but we have a backyard that is about 1/3 gravel driveway and 1/3 pool and 1/3 heavy landscaping. Using one of these gizmos would be hard on the gravel! Not to mention the pool!

My neighbor has one and she has to put it aside when she picks off her drive.

Sam said...

Hi john,
We just saw the Blazers win the Championship in a bar in Denver!

Sam said...


Anonymous said...

I never realized how many nuts actually lived in GA! You better get out of there ASAP! ;)
Then you will be able to join us nuts here in the north!
Love to you both,

Steve said...

One of the things I love about Louisiana in the Fall is picking pecans from the trees at our families dairy farm....