Good things come in small packages – in this case we’re talking about nuts. Each type has its own superstar qualities, adding sweet, earthy or bitter flavor along with some crunch to a range of dishes. A small handful can give a nutritious boost to any diet. From pie-ready pecans to eight species of hickories to that holiday classic, chestnuts, Missouri is teeming with homegrown nuts. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, the region is also the world’s top producer of black walnuts, which make for delightful baking companions.
Miller Pecan Farms
It all started in 1972 with a single pecan nut cracker. Since then, Miller Pecan Farms in De Witt, Missouri, has expanded into a full-fledged family business that supplies reliable, high-quality pecan products to customers near and far. You’re welcome to pick your own pecans after the farm weathers its first freeze of the year and they drop from the trees. But if that seems like a tough nut to crack, you can buy everything from hickory-smoked pecans and pecan caramel patties to praline pecan ice cream topping and pecan syrup from the comfort of your own home at millerpecanfarms.com.
Hammons Products Co.
Distinct, naturally bold flavor, incredible versatility and impressive health benefits make wild black walnuts a standout. Family-owned and -operated since 1946, Hammons Products Co. processes black walnuts hand-harvested by farmers across the Midwest and East-Central U.S. at its plant in Stockton, Missouri. Each year, the plant shells approximately 25 million pounds of black walnuts, producing edible nut meat for consumers and ground nut shells for industrial use. Black walnuts are a favorite in sweets – Prairie Farms and Baskin-Robbins both make black walnut ice cream with Hammons nuts – but they also add earthy flavor to savory dishes such as chicken, fish, wild rice and salad. Hammons sells them by the bag, baked into cookies, breads and brittle and as all-natural black walnut oil online at black-walnuts.com.
Savory, sweet and spicy, the premium roasted nuts from Thēz Nüts are handcrafted in small batches and seasoned with locally sourced herbs and spices. The Smokey Sweet KC BBQ almonds are a nod to the company’s hometown, while the cinnamon candied pecans – baked in organic cane sugar, cinnamon and vanilla – are a crowd-pleaser this time of year. Love spicy foods? Thēz Nüts also makes bhut jolokia (ghost pepper) peanuts. Go nuts and grab a bag of all three flavors at Kansas City-area stores, such as all Made in KC and Rally House locations, and select Fresh Thyme locations in St. Louis, as well as online at theznuts.com.
East Wind Nut Butters
Grab a spoon – gourmet nut butters are having a moment. At worker-owned cooperative East Wind Nut Butters, peanut, almond and cashew butter are sustainably milled and packaged in the secluded Ozark hills of southern Missouri. Whether you’re into raw or roasted, smooth or crunchy, natural or certified-organic, these addictive spreads are the perfect sandwich stuffer, oatmeal topper or straight-out-of-the-jar snack. Feeling adventurous? Fill Medjool dates with gooey almond butter, make creamy mac ‘n’ cheese with raw cashew butter or whip up Thai peanut sauce from East Wind’s smooth peanut butter. Find more ideas at eastwindnutbutters.com.