A type of nut that is grown and harvested from a family of trees that include hickories, walnuts and pecans. Hickory nuts come from trees such as the mocknut, bitternut, hican, (cross between hickory and pecan), and shagbark (shellbark). Edible hickory nuts are most often considered to be harvested from the shagbark or shellbark variety of tree. The pecan comes from a hybrid of the hickory tree. Most of the hickory tree varieties are native to the United States, growing in the northern tier from the east coast to the Midwest. Wood from the tree is very hard and is used for handles of tools or for smoking food. Typical of the wood, the shell of a common hickory nut is exceptionally hard and difficult to crack. Once cracked, the nut is also difficult to extract and is usually thin and brittle. Thus, there are few who attempt to harvest hickory nuts while the hickory relative, the pecan, has a shell that is thinner and more readily cracked. The hickory and pecan nuts, especially the pecan, are highly prized for their aroma, texture, and their buttery flavor (due to a higher fat content), which makes them well suited to complement baked goods, candies, ice cream, salads, and main dishes.
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