How can I identify a good pecan oil?
Look for 5 characteristics:
- Color: High quality pecan oil will be darker in color, which signals high phenolic (antioxidant) content and freshness.
- Cost: High quality pecans are expensive. Good pecan oil, therefore, will reflect the market price of good pecans. Beware of pecan oils that have a price to good to be true; these are likely made using old or even rancid pecans.
- Flour: Does the producer also market a pecan flour? If the pecans used to press the oil are high quality, then the producer will make commercial use of the leftover pecan from the pressing—called the pecan meal—usually by selling it as a flour. Poke around your favorite producer’s website to see if they sell a flour or meal.
- Varietal: Does the producer identify what variety of pecans it presses for its oil? There are hundreds of pecan varieties. A producer that is particular in their sourcing, as well as knowledgeable about the nutritional composition of their product, will identify which variety of pecans they use to press their oil.
- Harvest: Does the producer indicate they only use recent harvest pecans? Pecans can be stored frozen for years. We only use recent harvest pecans to press our oil, meaning with each new year, we’re pressing only the newest crop of pecans.
Why aren’t your Pure Pecan Oil and Pure Pecan Flour certified organic?
Our pecans are wild crafted, meaning they come from trees growing naturally in the wild. The ranchers who own the pecan trees are involved in some other agricultural business (in Texas, it’s usually cattle), and they don’t do much of anything to manage the pecan trees. They don’t spray them with pesticides or treat them with fertilizers, for example; instead they just let them grow how nature intended them. This is called passive cultivation. Once a year these ranchers allow pecan harvesters to access their land and shake the trees for the new crop of pecans, in exchange for a fee. Because these ranchers don’t consider themselves as being in the pecan business, it’s usually not worth their time or trouble to have their pecans certified organic. In turn, this means we can’t have our oil certified organic. But as we like to say, organic is good; wild crafted is better. That’s because even organic crops can be sprayed with pesticides and over-managed. The pecans that create our oil are as natural as can possibly be.
Is your Pure Pecan Oil “cold pressed?”
Yes, although that’s not a term we typically use. We say “expeller pressed”, because it’s a more relevant description of the process (see next question). “Cold pressed” is used by the olive oil industry, and it’s a bit of a misnomer anyway, because there’s heat involved even in cold-pressing. Similarly, we don’t describe our pecan oil as “virgin” or “extra virgin,” as these have no standardized or regulated meaning outside of olive oil production. Here’s the important point: no matter what you call it, no extreme heat, chemicals or solvents are used to press our pecans; just pressure and gravity to press, filter, and bottle our oil.
What’s an expeller press?
An expeller press is a type of oil press that uses physical pressure to extract oil. A giant screw carries the pecans forward through a chamber until they meet what’s called a press plate. The tremendous pressure resulting from the screw driving the pecans forward against the plate squeezes out the oil. What’s left of the pecan after the oil is pressed out is called the pecan meal; we market our meal as Pure Pecan Flour.
Do you toast your pecans?
Never! Oil from toasted pecans can taste great, but beware: toasting can also be a method to mask the flavor of inferior, low-quality pecans. We use American native pecans to press our oil, and natives have naturally intense flavor and sweetness, even more than orchard-raised pecans. It would be a shame to toast or otherwise try to alter the quality of native pecans before pressing. They’re perfect as they are!
Are Pure Pecan Oil and Pure Pecan Flour non-GMO?
Yes. As a general rule, most pecans are non-GMO, and the pecans most free from human interference of any kind are wild American native pecans, which are the exclusive source of our oil and flour.
I’ve heard pecan oil is “neutral” in flavor; but yours tastes buttery and flavorful. Why?
Because our pecan oil is what pecan oil should truly taste like: slightly nutty, slightly butter, and in any event: flavorful! “Neutral” is a descriptor used by oil producers that use inferior, low quality and even rancid (!) pecans to press their oil. They need to over-refine their oil to compensate for their bad pecans, which leaves their oil light in color and without much flavor. These producers have successfully convinced a lot of customers that pecan oil has a neutral flavor. Well, it’s really not supposed to.
Your bottle is clear glass. Isn’t oil better packaged in a dark or amber bottle, to protect the oil from light?
Ideally, yes. We use clear glass for 3 reasons. First, many customers are still unfamiliar with pecan oil, and are first-time buyers. We think it’s important therefore to show what pecan oil looks like. Second, we want people to see the darker color of our oil—an indicator of nutrition and freshness—especially contrasted against other pecan oils. Third, our oil is so high in antioxidants, there’s little risk of it turning bad before it’s all used, especially when it’s properly stored in a cool place and out of direct light.