Pecans have an extra-hard shell that presents two problems: brittleness and splintering. Splintered shells not only get in the way of enjoying the kernels, but also cause the kernel itself to fragment. Reconstitution, or soaking the unshelled pecans in hot water to soften them, makes them easier to open and increases your yield of whole, unbroken nuts. Reconstituting unshelled pecans isn't an instant solution, though, because you have to air-dry them for about one day to get rid of the moisture that can cultivate bacteria.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the unshelled pecans to the water.
Reduce the heat so the water barely simmers. Simmer the pecans for 10 minutes.
Drain the pecans in a colander and let them cool enough to handle. Shell the pecans using a nutcracker.
Spread the pecans in an even layer on a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Let the pecans air dry for 24 hours in an area that recives good air flow. You can also use a fan to facilitate drying.
Store unshelled and shelled pecans in airtight containers.
Store unshelled pecans in a cool, dry place for 4 to 6 months, in the refrigerator for up to 18 months and in the freezer for up to 2 to 4 years.
Store shelled pecans in a cool, dry place for up to 2 months, in your refrigerator for up to 9 months and in your freezer for up to 2 years.