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Austinites go nuts for pecan cracking service

For 50 cents a pound, up to 20 pounds, four old-timey-looking machines will do all the pecan cracking work for you.

AUSTIN — If you love pecans, but don't love cracking them yourself, there's a service in Austin that will do it for you.

The Lamar Senior Activity Center in Central Austin is once again offering its pecan cracking service to the public.

For 50 cents a pound, up to 20 pounds, four old-timey-looking machines will do all the work for you.

Since November, volunteers Bill Myers and John Camden have helped cracked more than 1,000 pounds of pecans.

Customers, like Meredith Morningstar, have been taking advantage of the service for years.

Morningstar said she loves pecans.

"I give them to family, a lot of them -- family that lives in Oregon, like that -- so I give it to them because they miss them!" Morningstar said.

One at a time, the nuts enter the machine and come out without most of their shells. Every once in a while, the volunteers stir the nuts, making sure none of them stick.

"The first year I was here, we had pecans stacked, we couldn't crack them fast enough, they couldn't pick them up fast enough. We had all of these shelves full," Myers said.

For safety measures, Myers and Camden must wear protective eye and ear gear.

"So I don't lose any more hearing. I'm already deaf!" Myers joked.

Myers said business has picked up the past few weeks.

"This is a better year than last year was," Myers said.

For customers like Robert Haney, bringing pecans to the Lamar Senior Activity Center is just as much a tradition as pecans themselves.

"For me, my four-year-old loves the sugar-coated pecans at Christmastime, so we're going to make some of those together," Haney said. "So, that's why it's a big deal for me."

It gets so busy sometimes, they have designated parking. The sign reads, "reserved for nut cracking patrons."

This service is available every Monday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. until mid-January.

The Lamar Senior Activity Center is located near 29th Street and North Lamar Blvd.