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shelling pecans

Leah Sattler

Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
my property has at least 5 pecan trees all bearing enormous amounts of pecans each year. Very few get used though because of the tedious task of shelling them (these are wild pecans not paper shell so they are much smaller and have thick shells) does anyone have any tips for to make it less time consuming? it would take me hours to shell enough just for a pie.


"One cannot help an involuntary process. The point is not to disturb it. - Dr. Michel Odent
paul wheaton

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 17407
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
I would like to hear the answer to this too.  But for the moment, I would just like to hear more about your trees.  How cold does it get where you are?  Do you have pictures of the trees?  The "fruit"? 

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Leah Sattler

Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
well so far this is the best I can find as far as a sheller for home use .[ID]=224&catalog[ID]=116&

I also read that boiling them and then plunging them in ice water can ease cracking and shelling. I'll try it when they start rolling in this year. For grins I went out and actually counted all the pecan trees. I have nine not including the "babies" under 30'.

looks as though I'll have some coming this year too.

despite this last december.....we lost a big one in the ice and lots and lots of limbs.  I was very upset all night during the storm listening to all the cracking and crashing sounds of my beloved pecan trees being destroyed by the ice.

this pic shows some in the background of the garden.

Charley Hoke

Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 66
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
Those look very similar to the pecans grown here in the south in groves. I used to have a few of these where I used to live. They can be a chore to crack. I used to carry a pocket full for a snack and could crack them by squeezing two of them together in my hand. I takes a pretty good grip but the key is to lay them side by side. Of course this is no good if you are trying to crack a lot of them.

I used a simple two lever nutcracker like this one,

The key here is to again crack the sides. slowly and gently, rotating the nut as you go, sometimes I would break the nut but that was ok, I would just eat these.  I could crack about a gallon of hulled nuts in about an hour with one of these.

Here are some other nutcrackers, I have heard the first one on the page is the best for pecans but have personally never used one.

I'm jealous, I do love pecans, like most nuts I like them best fresh cracked and raw.

Joined: Apr 12, 2009
Posts: 66
I'm very lazy here in AL- I buy already shelled from a neighbor. They soak them in water, then take them to our local processor who cracks them, then I guess my friend shells them (excellently) by hand evenings. I freeze or refrigerate them right off suspecting the damp might make them mold quicker.
Dave Boehnlein

Joined: Jun 10, 2007
Posts: 294
Location: Orcas Island, WA
For any thick shelled nuts Burnt Ridge Nursery sells a couple good products. Check out their nutcracker page at


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paul wheaton

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 17407
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
In that last pic it looks like you are growing some really nice electricity.  Do you have some seeds to share? 

(sorry - a really lame joke.  And I have nothing of any substance to add to this)


Joined: Mar 13, 2010
Posts: 10
A lot of folks just find a pecan business and pay to have them cracked and blown.  This will make your work a lot easier if you're close enough to one. 

If you're doing them by hand, many reed rockets-type shellers will work, but I also like the #816 Texan Nut Sheller by Texan nut sheller company.  Replaceable blades and EASY to use. - dedicated to growing, education, and use of Diospyros virginiana L., the common, or American persimmon

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Joined: Jan 28, 2010
Posts: 175
My property is part of a 100 year old pecan orchard.  Here in Alabama even the smallest town will have a commercial pecan shelling business where you can take your pecans to get them shelled.

For small amounts I use the nut cracker that Charley Hoke describes.  The seedling pecans are a whole lot harder to crack than the papershells.  There is also a sliding tool that you can use to crack hickories (very hard) and wild pecans.

You also need a pecan picker:

The pecans fall to the ground and you can scoop them up with this tool.

My dog loves to shell  pecans.  She cracks them, then spits out the shells and eats the nuts.\

I doubt if she would ever give me any of the pecans she has shelled for herself though.

Here's a collection of nut crackers:

The Reed's Rocket type of nut cracker will crack very hard nuts.


Joined: Dec 20, 2009
Posts: 148
Whenever I'm sitting around cracking nuts I like to have my small pair of side-cutter pliers to use on the tough parts. I use a nutcracker, but especially for black walnuts (and wild pecans too) the cutter comes in handy.

Joined: May 03, 2010
Posts: 34
Get a "avebilt" handcrank nutcracker. They cost about $150, but they're worth it. You'll be able to process bushels at a time. Your kids will fight over who gets to turn the crank, and the thing will eventually be passed down to your grandchildren.
Emerson White

Joined: May 02, 2010
Posts: 1206
Location: Alaska
Take a look at this, I don't know much about it but listening to Frank Aragonas podcast it seems like Appropedia is a legitimate outlet, with some really great ideas.

Joined: Jun 08, 2010
Posts: 3
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
I've tried all KINDS of pecan shelling methods and gadgets!

And I can tell you two things for SURE:

1) Boiling the pecans for ten minutes will definitely make them easier to shell.  In my opinion, they were easiest to shell if I got busy on 'em while they were still warm.  I boiled small batches, scooped 'em out with a strainer and shelled 'em as soon as I could handle without burning my fingers.

2) Those antics are all in my past however, since I obtained what surely is the best nut cracker to be had, bar none--- the Texas  Native Inertia Nutcracker.   Here's the website:

I got lucky and found mine on Craig's List, but have seen them on Ebay also.

Amazingly simple design, extremely well-built and heavy duty for years of service.  I don a pair of those Mr. Clean rubber-coated work gloves to improve my grip and avoid blisters, then I can crank out enough beautifully shelled pecans to make several pies AND a fat goody bag of shelled pecans for a neighbor, in just a couple of hours!  My inertia nutcracker puts 'em all to shame and is the way to go if you shell 'em yourself and want to do it FAST and as easily as possible (and you don't have 150 bucks for that hand-crank beauty!). 

I remember a third thing I can tell you, pertaining to boiling pecans:

3) When you forget and leave the giant covered vessel on high until it boils dry, then you suddenly remember and rush in to find it tetering around and making strange sounds on the burner,  do not--I repeat-- DO NOT  put the seething time bomb into the sink and run water on it!!!  Yep, I are a college gradgiate, but clearly I never took physics---or maybe it's cuz I'm AN AGGIE, but all I can tell ya is the instant water hit the lid on that pot there was the loudest explosion sound I've ever been next to.  Luckily it was actually the sound of an IMplosion, or I'd probably be dead and my giant spaghetti-sauce pot wouldn't be lookin like a crunched up beer can.  I could not BELIEVE that gigantic stainless steel pot was crumpled instantly!  But I beliveve it now sooooooo BEWARE!!!  HaHa!

Good luck with those nuts!

From this nut,


I used to be Snow White...but I drifted.  -Mae West

Joined: May 29, 2010
Posts: 126
Location: Ava, Mo, USA, Earth
I've never tried this with pecans, but it works well with hickories. 

When I was young, I heard that our word 'hickory' comes from an Indian word for soup.  It was the last part of a phrase that meant "nut that makes good soup."  (Note, although everybody agrees that hickory is from an Indian word, not all mention the soup bit.) Anyhow, I spent years trying to figure out how to make nut soup.  It just didn't seem like it would be worth the time to shell enough nuts.

The trick is, you don't shell the nuts: you smash them to a pulp, shell and all.  Drop the pulp in water and boil.  A pinch of salt and pepper go a long way to improving the flavor.  The shells and part of the meat sink to the bottom.  Part of the meat and some oil float.  Stirr it really well and then let it sit.  Laddle out the broth and oil, let the shells stay on the bottom.

subject: shelling pecans