Shelled pecans properly stored in the refrigerator are good for up to nine months. If stored in the freezer from 10 degrees to 31 degrees, they will keep for two years. If stored in the freezer at 0 degrees, they can be stored for up to five years.
"Cool and Dry" are the most important things to remember about storage. If using right away, there is no need to refrigerate pecans. If it will be a while before you need them, they should be packaged in plastic or glass containers to keep the best flavor. Pecans are oily and might absorb flavors from other items stored nearby. Pecans can be thawed and re-frozen to use in recipes and for eating.
The nut-filling stage for pecans is usually from mid-August to early October, with harvest occuring between September and December, depending on the variety. Freshness and flavor depend more on the storage and care after harvest than the timing of the harvest itself.
Once pecans get older and start to turn dark or dry, they are still safe to eat but flavor is lost. If your pecans are squishy or moldy, discard them.
If picking and shelling your own pecans, they will benefit from being rinsed off and dried in the oven- or even toasted- to remove any stray pieces of shells and dust. If buying the pieces, they are ready to use right out of the bag!
To make a pie, many people like to use the pieces or smaller sized halves which makes it easier to cut. The top can be decorated with a variety of other colors and shapes of pecan for a unique look. Most recipes call for between 1 1/2 to 2 cups of pecans. A pound sized bag is enough to make a pie plus have leftovers to snack on.