Rotarians learn all about pecans

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Pecans have become big business over the last ten years, especially for Rob and Eric Cohen, owners of Pecan Ridge Plantation. Rob presented the program at Rotary this week, giving many facts and figures about the pecan market. First of all, he said pecan trees are native to the U.S. and there are about 1000 varieties. He said Daugherty Co., Ga. produces the most pecans in the United States.

The brothers are becoming well-known, not only for their large production of pecans, but also for their pecan oil that was introduced to the market in 2015. Then, there are the truffles by Tate, delicacies that their dog Tate discovered growing among the pecans. They are actually mushrooms that grow just underneath the ground along the roots of the trees. They are considered delicacies, similar to the ones found in Europe. Truffle season is from July through November, but as they need moisture in order to develop, they will be scarce in times of drought.

Ten years ago is when the Chinese discovered pecans. They buy 100 to 110 million pounds of pecans a year. Now it seems everyone is planting pecans. He estimates 50,000 more acres of pecans have been added in Georgia over the last ten years. 

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He related an interesting story on the way they are transported to China. They are sent in 50 lb. bags to Vietnam where they are carried on the backs of persons who ride bikes or walk over the mountains to China. He said it takes six weeks from the time they leave the Port of Savannah, Ga., through the Panama Canal to Vietnam.

The two Cohen brothers grew up in Brinson, both graduated from UGA and purchased their first pecan orchard of 150 acres near Lake Seminole.  Their warehouse is in Brinson and they now have five orchards located in Florida and Georgia.

The oil production came about after his daughter Katherine heard a missionary speak at their church. She wanted to find a way to make money to send to the mission. They set her up with a stand to sell pecans and 12 bottles of oil, that were in plain bottles. She sold them all and took orders for more.

There is another producer of pecan oil in Louisiana, but they purchase their pecans from growers. The Cohen brothers’ oil production is completely from farm to market. They achieve 10.8 ounces of oil from one pound of nuts, and put out about 18 gallons a day, five days a week. The meal residue is then sold for livestock feed supplement.

“Pecan oil is high in antioxidants, cooks real hot, real fast and is great for sautéing vegetables, fish or meats,” according to Cohen. It is available for sale in 250 stores from the state of Washington to Maine, as well as several locations in Bainbridge.

“Our truffle oil is the first in the U.S,” said Cohen. It is said to have a mild garlicky taste and is good for seasoning different foods. It is found in high-end restaurants throughout the South,

The company also sells pecan truffles by the ounce and offers private truffle hunts for individuals. To learn more, check the website