Early Harvest and Oven Drying Temperatures Influence Pecan Kernel Flavor

in HortScience

`Western Schley' pecans [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] were evaluated for flavor by a 17-person sensory panel after oven-drying nuts that had been harvested 1 to 7 weeks before normal harvest in 1985. The nuts were 1) not dried, 2) oven-dried 24 hours at 29C, 3) oven-dried 24 hours at 35C, 4) oven-dried 30 hours at 29C, 5) oven-dried 30 hours at 35C, 6) dried at room temperature for 72 hours, and 7) collected at normal harvest time (control). At the start of the experiment, kernel moisture was ≈ 14%. Some of the treatments reduced kernel moisture to <5 % the first week of the experiment, but drying nuts at room temperature for 72 hours reduced kernel moisture as effectively as other treatments. Judging by kernel flavor, pecans can be harvested ≈ 4 weeks before normal harvest (performed after the first freeze in Las Cruces, N.M.) and artificially dried without affecting flavor.

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