Monday, January 9, 2017
In the eye of the beholder: Kanza and Pawnee
Consumers are visually oriented. Given the choice between several, in-shell cultivars most consumers will be attracted to the largest nut and immediately ask if the nut is a "paper shell". It doesn't seem to matter if a quality kernel actually resides inside the shell. Given the choice between Kanza and Pawnee, most in-shell buyers will choose Pawnee based solely on its larger size.
Kernel appearance is where Kanza really shines. A bag of cracked Kanza nuts is filled with plump, light-colored kernels. Cracked with a modern pneumatic pecan cracker, Kanza kernels not only look pretty but entire kernel halves are often freed from the shell.
In comparison, Pawnee kernels vary widely in appearance, even when harvested from a single tree. Some kernels have a nice golden color while others appear mottled (photo above). This causes the consumer to pause and ask if the mottled kernels have something wrong with them. Offering a taste sample may be the only way to convince a consumer that a mottled Pawnee kernel tastes just fine.
Its unfortunate that taste, that one human sense that should guide consumers, is rarely used to select pecans within the marketplace. Both Kanza and Pawnee have excellent flavor, although their flavors differ. Kanza kernels taste sweet and oily while Pawnee kernels have a distinctive buttery flavor. Personally, I like the flavor of both nuts and I find it refreshing to switch up a recipe by simply using a different pecan cultivar.