New Mexico Pecans

Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

We always write about pistachios because it is the crop we produce at Heart of the Desert. However, we also sell pecans. Why? Well, because they also grow very well in the Southern New Mexico desert. The Pecans we sell come from the Mesilla Valley where the climate and fertile Rio Grande Valley soil make them another perfect crop for this area.

Pecans are a type of tree nut that are native to North America. Pecans are commonly grown in the Southern United States, such as Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, and of course New Mexico.

Pecan Taste

Pecans have a rich, buttery flavor with a slightly sweet taste. The taste can vary depending on whether they are roasted or raw, and on how they have been prepared. Raw pecans have a milder flavor and a slightly chewy texture, while roasted pecans have a deeper, nutty flavor and a crispy texture. In addition, pecans can have hints of bitterness and astringency, especially if they are not fresh. The taste makes them a popular ingredient in a wide variety of sweet and savory dishes.

Pecan Harvesting

Pecans are harvested similarly to pistachios in that they are shaken from the trees. They are ready to harvest in the fall, usually somewhere between October to December. You will know they are ready when the green husks turn brown and crack open. You want to catch them just before they start falling. Damp weather can cause the nuts to go stale and become rancid if they spend much time on the ground.

Pecans need to be sorted to pull out any that might be damaged by worm infestations or other pests. Then they need to air dry for two weeks in their shells. This process is called curing. Remove a few from the shells to see if they break in half easily. If they do, they are ready for eating. Once shelled, they can be stored in an airtight container for up to 6 months in the refrigerator or up to 2  years in the freezer.

Pecan Health Benefits

Like pistachios, pecans have many health benefits. A single ounce of pecans, about 20 pecan halves, is around 200 calories. They are packed with fiber, protein, and a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Pecans are:

  • Rich in Fiber: One ounce of pecans contains 3 grams of fiber, and this represents 10% of your recommended daily allowance of fiber. Fiber helps aid in digestion and contributes to the lowering of bad cholesterol (LDL).
  • Filled with Oleic Acid: Numerous studies have linked oleic acid as helpful in reducing LDL cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol (HDL). Oleic acid also reduces your cholesterol levels in general, which is beneficial in preventing heart disease. Oleic acid has another little-known benefit: it makes you feel full after consuming it, an added plus if you are watching your weight.
  • Good Source of Manganese and Copper: Manganese and copper have been linked to improved overall metabolic health, according to several studies, and some studies have shown some indication that both may have anti-inflammatory properties and may also help prevent high blood pressure.
  • Excellent Source of Magnesium and Zinc: Pecans are naturally high in magnesium and zinc. Magnesium has been proven to be helpful in the fight against heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes, and is an essential element for bone health. Zinc is a proven infection fighter. Some studies have shown that the consumption of zinc lowers the risk of inflammation-related
    chronic diseases and improves brain function for learning and memory.
  • Top Food for Antioxidants: Pecans are packed with flavonoids, a unique type of antioxidant, found in many fruits and vegetables. Pecans contain more flavonoids than any other tree nut. Foods high in flavonoids have been shown to decrease the chances of individuals developing diseases such as diabetes, cancer, or heart disease. Other studies have linked the consumption of foods high in flavonoids to improved blood flow and reduced inflammation in the brain which may slow the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s.



Pecans are often used in baking and cooking. In the South, pecan pies are famous. Pecans are a good source of protein, healthy fats, and fiber, as well as vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc. They have a rich buttery flavor and a slightly sweet taste and can be eaten raw or roasted.

At Heart of the Desert, we carry fresh pecans and candy-coated pecans. You can load up for your baking and snacking needs while you are shopping for pistachios, wine, chocolates, and other gourmet New Mexico foods.

Heart of the Desert is a working pistachio ranch and vineyard with four retail establishments in New Mexico. They are best known for their farm fresh pistachios and Award-Winning New Mexico wines.  Each store offers wine and pistachio tastings. They offer worldwide shipping and produce attractive gourmet baskets that make great corporate and family gifts. The main store, on the ranch in Alamogordo, offers farm tours that showcases how pistachios are grown and processed as well as a stunning Tuscany themed patio that overlooks the groves and is available for weddings, private parties or enjoying a relaxing glass of wine.