My inlaws have SEVERAL pecan trees- covers their entire yard! AND< they just brought me several bags (traveled far with them)- some cracked, some unshelled. SO....
this is where we get our cracker:http://texannutsheller.com/
the texan york nut sheller
It's not that expensive, all things considered- esp since we do it all the time. around $15, I think.
We store ours in the freezer- cracked or uncracked- keep in fridge if using soon, freezer if gonna be awhile. They stay fresh that way.
How much freezer space do you have? I'd freeze them WHOLE if at all possible as they will be fresher longer. IN a grocery bag or such is fine. paper or plastic, we've done both. We have done this for over a year or so, crack them and then eat- not as fresh as off the tree, but much better than store bought!
As to cracking instructions- pecans are a softer nut- definitely recommend pliers if not a real cracker. If using a cracker- cut the ends off, then roll it in the cracker and "gently" crack as you turn the nut (a little turn, crack, a little turn, crack...) just hard enough to crack the shell- then pull all hte shell off. There are two "halves" with a softer shell part in the middle. The halves rarely stay together, so just pull out the soft stuff as much as you can. THe challenge with pecans is that they have lots of crevices that harbor this soft shell part, and it's bitter if eaten so you like to get it all out. We pick what we can easily remove, then place in tupperware container and shake shake shake (usually youngest child's job!) The pecans won't be crumbs, honest! But there will be alot of "dust" at the bottom of the container when done.
PM me if you have more questions. Note: there are different types of pecans- some are "dirtier" than others, some are easier to shell than others. Hopefully yours are very yummy and ya'll will appreciate the efforts. Oh, and cracking parties are much more fun than doing it alone- it is alot of work! Great eveing project with Christmas music or such. Enjoy!
Thanks for the tip on driving over nuts- I'll have to ttry that on macadamian nuts- the cracker is NOT strong enough for them- 300psi required to crack one nut! crazy!!!