With each seasonal menu, we like to showcase a few key flavours that are really tickling our fancy. Pecan happens to be one such flavour this fall and being keen to learn more about these humble nuts*, we paid a visit to a local farm that has built an interesting business around them.
*While technically a drupe, we’ll refer to the pecan as a nut since that’s what most people commonly know it as. To find out a lot more about why they’re classified as drupes, we recommend checking out this page.
This farm is run by Elisabeth and Mitch, a husband and wife team who left the city life in 2010 and never looked back. Lis runs a successful roasted nut business by the name of Jewels Under the Kilt, where locally grown nuts mingle with unique blends of spices and fruit. While she offers roasted walnuts, hazelnuts and heart nuts, it was the wide range of roasted pecans that caught our eye.
We asked Lis about how she comes up with her roasted nut recipes – after all it’s not everyday that you come across maple pumpkin pie spiced pecans. For her, it starts with what kind of dish the nuts will be used in. Whether she wants to see a pairing with fish or perhaps just being eaten with cheese, that final dish will give her an idea of what type of flavour the nuts should have. From that point, she’ll work backwards and conduct taste tests before whittling it down to the final product.
Lis showed us some of the equipment they use to process the nuts, and it became apparent very quickly that this is a very labour intensive process. The nuts we commonly buy from our local grocers go through the stages of being peeled, cracked, cleaned and often roasted before they hit the shelves. It’s no wonder why some of these tiny nutrition-packed morsels command such a high price.
We were also curious about their experience in growing these nut trees up here in Canada. When we announced our plans to visit a local nut farm to our coworkers and family, the typical response was “Oh, I didn’t even know we grew them up here”. This isn’t that shocking considering our cool climate and the fact that most of the world’s pecans come from the southern United States and Mexico. However, Lis has managed to source some nut trees that have been adapted to our colder temperatures, and while a few have struggled to get through the winter, many of them have been quite resilient.
After walking around the farm and learning about their whole operation, we only had one question left: why was the business called Jewels Under the Kilt? Was there some sort of Scottish influence at work here? Lis laughed and said that it all came about because of a joke. After selling at their first Royal Winter Fair, she decided that it was time to have an official business name. They started tossing ideas around one night and all of a sudden, Mitch said jokingly “I’ve got it! Jewels under the kilt!” and she immediately registered it to make it official.
And what of the pecans themselves? We found them to be crisp, light and great for snacking on. The flavours are strong but not overpowering, and unique enough that you won’t find them easily anywhere else. They’re sold online as well as at various markets and stores (which you can check out here).
If you’re craving even more pecans after all this, we would highly recommend trying our pecan flan, which is available until the end of November.
As always, follow us @demetres on Instagram for all the behind-the-scenes action, and let us know if you’re also as nutty about pecans as we are!