Pecans – Bakery Ingredient – Its Uses in Food Processing and Advantages

What are Pecans?

The pecan (Carya illinoinensis) is a species of hickory native to Mexico and the Southern United States. Pecans are one of the best known dietary sources of vitamin E, which has antioxidant effects. More than 70% of pecans are made up of fat.

Pecan trees are large, deciduous trees that are related to hickory trees. Easily identifiable by its rich brown kernel with a distinctive grooved surface, pecans have a distinct flavor from other tree nuts.

History of Pecans 

Pecans are the only tree nut native to North America. The first cultivated pecan trees were planted in the late 1600s to early 1700 hundreds in northern Mexico. The first U.S. plantings were on Long Island, New York.

As a food source, pecans are a natural choice for pre agricultural society. Today, the U.S. produces about 80 percent of the world pecan supply.

Also Read: List of Proteins, Vitamins and Minerals Used in Bakery Products

Commercial Production of Pecans

Pecans are harvested from mid-October through December, and then they are shelled and roasted. Pecans can be processed by any of the following mechanism:

  • Dry method: In this, nuts are roasted by dry heat in an oven and then they are coated with unsalted butter.
  • Oil method: In this, pecans are fried in vegetable oil and then salt is sprinkled over them.

Uses of Pecans in Food Processing:

  • Pecans are used as favourite topping for various desserts when they are chopped.
  • They have its consistency like butter and thus used in many bakery items.
  • They are used as an anti-oxidant in food products and thus reduce the formation of free radical in body.
  • They are added ion chocolate chips.
  • They are used in food items because of their sweet nature.
  • They are baked into cakes, muffins, biscuits, pie.

Advantages of Pecans in deit:

  • Pecans have naturally sweet taste.
  • They are a source of high energy as they are rich in protein.
  • On metabolism, Pecans lowers down the bad cholesterol in body and increases the amount of good cholesterol.
  • They have a good content of Vitamin E and B1, thus boosts up the immune system ensuring proper cellular health.
  • They are rich in minerals and anti-oxidants for growth and metabolism of body.
  • They are used as snacks.
  • They are rich in flavonoids content.

Disadvantages on High dose of Pecans:

  • Pecans are high in fat content.

FDA Approval on the use of Pecans in Food

Pecans are classified as “tree nuts” by the FDA. That makes them a “major food allergen,” and they must be declared on all labels, for any use. Pecan shell fiber is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use as a “natural” flavor complex for meat products pecan shell fiber is not GRAS for other purposes.

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