Shelling the Last Pecan…

The last pecan, all by its lonesome self...

The last pecan, all by its lonesome self…

Today marks a small milestone for me: I have shelled the last pecan I had harvested from my four pecan trees last year.  This has taken an enormous amount of work over the past four to five months to complete as all of the pecans were cracked by hand.  All I have to say is that I have a great respect for the people who did this sort of for a living before the invention of mechanical nut cracker.  I doubt that I would have lasted.  At the very least, my hands would have been destroyed by the work.

The nine quart-jars of pecans I have in my pantry.

The nine quart-jars of pecans I have in my pantry.

The final result is twelve full quarts of shelled pecans.  Three of the jars were used for pecan pies for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so only nine are currently in the pantry.  I see several pecan pies in my future this year.  I will also be on the lookout for more recipes that use pecans and I will snack on some of these.  It is a good thing that I will be getting more pecans later this year, as these will be gone before too long.

I have a five gallon bucket full of pecan shells that I plan on turning into charcoal.  I haven’t been making much charcoal recently because the weather has alternating between warm enough to do work outside and too cold to do much outside.  When the weather is warm, I’ve worked until the sun goes down and that doesn’t leave much time for getting the needed wood together to run the fire.  And when it is cold, I don’t want to be outside for long, even if there is a blazing fire nearby.

My First Batch of Charcoal

The first batch of charcoal I made myself

I succeeded last night in making my first batch of charcoal. Unfortunately, it took me three attempts to get it completely turned to charcoal and I am not quite sure that it was completely successful because some of the branches don’t snap easily.

I obviously haven’t perfected the making of charcoal as this is my first batch.  As such, I won’t go into too much detail of how I made it.  Just a few general ideas.  I will probably provide more information once I get it figured out. I used a retort method using the paint can featured in the picture above.  On the bottom of the can, I have a pattern of holes punched into it.  The pattern I used is only there to prevent the can from having the lid blown off as the wood off gases when it is turned into charcoal.

I packed the can full of decent sized branches.  Then I used a grill filled with more wood and used leaves to get the wood lit. I put the can into the grill and closed the lid. A couple of hours later, I removed the can from the grill, set it so that the holes were covered, and let it cool off.

All the wood and leaves were dead fall or pruned from trees on my property and zero trees were cut down to fuel this.  I did end up using a lighter to get the leaves started, as I wasn’t going to spend hours just getting the fire lit.