It's the day before Thanksgiving and in my house, the cooking and baking has already begun in preparation for the big feast. Many of my family's favorite holiday recipes will be requiring the services of that versatile and tasty nut – the pecan! From the pies on the Thanksgiving table to the cookies and pralines around Christmastime, plenty of folks will be heading out to their local supermarkets to pick up a bag or two of pecans. Nothing wrong with that, although such an outing is not usually up there on the fun meter. But buying pecans can actually be fun, if you pay a visit to Royalty Pecan Farms in Caldwell, Texas.
Texas is one the country's largest producers of pecans and this is the time of year that the nuts are harvested. During November and December, Royalty Pecan Farms features their Harvest Saturday Tour so visitors can learn the journey of the pecan. Some people may think that doesn't sound all that interesting but they would be mistaken. It's quite an interesting tour. For example, do you know how pecans are harvested? A big truck with a "claw" drives alongside the tree, grasps its trunk and shakes it, really hard. When the pecans are ripe, thousands of them drop from the tree at once in a dark curtain, covering the ground. Another truck follows to sweep them all up and take them in for processing. The tour includes a ride around the farm in a covered wagon during which you'll view some spectacular scenery of the serene countryside. The tours commence at 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, 2:30 pm, and 4:00 pm, and cost only $3 per person. (Kids under 4 are free.)
But let’s not forget that we're here on a mission: securing fresh pecans! And for that, you just head over to their wonderful gift shop where you'll be able to sample some of their pecans and other treats. And besides buying what you’ll be needing for your cooking and baking, why not treat yourself to a slice of their own pecan pie. I must admit I am not usually a fan of pecan pie, but I did enjoy theirs; it was by far the best I've ever had. It wasn't cloyingly sweet like most of the others I've tried, and the crust was fantastic too! You can also purchase a glass of wine, beer or soda and relax while admiring the lovely orchard views. Now what supermarket offers that?
Royalty Pecan Farms is family owned and operated, using sustainable farming practices that protect the environment. Besides growing, harvesting and processing the Texas pecan, they also sponsor special events, weddings, concerts, and host orchard tours.
It's definitely worth a visit to this nut farm!
All photos above from the Royalty Pecan Farms' Facebook page.
Try this amazing, authentic recipe for Texas Pecan Pralines at TourTexas.com.