Our Favorite “Nut”:
The Fresh Scoop on Drupes 

When it comes to nuts, none hold a candle to pecans (in our humble opinion). The thing is, pecans actually aren’t nuts at all—in fact, many of the most beloved and familiar “nuts” found in grocery aisles aren’t either. So what are they exactly? Read on to find out.

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nut or drupe

A tough nut to crack

For you to understand why pecans aren’t nuts, first we need to understand what a nut actually is. As defined, a nut is “a simple dry fruit with one seed (rarely two) in which the ovary wall becomes very hard at maturity, and where the seed remains unattached or unfused with the ovary wall.” That’s right—nuts are actually a form of dry fruit! 

Generally speaking, a wide variety of dried seeds are referred to as nuts, but in a botanical context, “nut” implies that the shell does not open to release the seed. One must manually uncrack the shell to release the seed. 

Botanical Nuts

So to review, a nut consists of (1) The hardened ovary wall (or shell), and (2) The unattached seed (or nut). Upon maturity, this outer ovary wall will not crack, making it indehiscent.

These “botanical nuts” as they’re classified actually don’t encompass many of the “nuts” as we know them today. Some examples of these hard-shelled botanical nuts include chestnuts, hazelnuts, and a squirrel’s favorite snack, acorns!

cherry drupe

Drupe, there it is

Now that we’ve broken down the classification of a nut or botanical nut as it’s referred to, let’s move on to drupes. Drupes or “stone fruit” are defined as a simple fleshy fruit, featuring an outer fleshy part (exocarp, or skin; and mesocarp, or flesh) surrounding a single shell (the pit, stone, or pyrene) of hardened endocarp with a seed (kernel) inside. Surprise, surprise—drupes are fruit as well! Now when someone asks what your favorite fruit is, you can always answer with pecans!

The definitive characteristic of a drupe is that the hard, “lignified” stone (or pit) is formed from the ovary wall of the flower. Whereas in an aggregate fruit like a raspberry, it is composed of small, individual drupes called drupelets, and can together form an aggregate fruit.

So unlike a nut, a drupe consists of 3 elements: (1) The fleshy part (outer skin or flesh), (2) The attached “stone” or pit, and (3) the inner seed, AKA the kernel. Upon maturity, this outer ovary wall will also not crack, making it indehiscent. 

The Drupe Troop

Now that we’ve uncracked the secret behind drupes, let’s take a look at a few of our favorite drupes:

  1. Cherry
  2. Peach
  3. Plums

With the above drupe examples, we eat the surrounding flesh or mesocarp, and maybe even the outer skin or exocarp. However, we toss the inner pit and seed.

  1. Walnuts
  2. Almonds
  3. Last but not least, Pecans!

Unlike some of our favorite juicy drupes, with the above examples, we remove the outer skin, (exocarp), which we often call the husk. At Stahmanns, we do this using our state-of-the-art shelling plant on site, while also keeping many of our pecans with the shell intact to preserve freshness and allow for more purchasing options for our customers.

The difference here comes in the final bite—when you chow down on a pecan, almond, or walnut, you’re actually eating the inner flesh (mesocarp) and seed of that drupe!

No matter what you call it, call it Stahmanns

We know what you’re thinking—if so many of your favorite nuts aren’t actually nuts at all, why do we call them that? Well when it comes to preparation, cooking, and flavor, pecans, almonds, and many other “nut-like” drupes behave similarly to that of botanical nuts. As such, these drupes are classified as “culinary nuts”, as their flavor, texture, and appearance are much more reminiscent of botanical nuts than fleshy drupes like cherries and peaches. 

Discover the gold standard of pecans

Whether they’re drupes, nuts, or something in between, one thing is for sure: Stahmanns Pecans are unbelievably tasty. Experience the rich flavor of Stahmanns Pecans for yourself, and learn more about our bulk business opportunities today! Contact us here or call us at toll-free at (844) 739-6887 or for sales at (575) 644-8247.

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