Brain Food 101: Storing Nuts and Seeds

Last week, Lauren asked about the best way to store nuts and seeds. I’ve long suspected that I’m not storing my almonds, peanuts and walnuts properly (remember, I store them in glass jars on a shelf in my kitchen), but reasoned that I go through them quickly enough that it doesn’t matter. Which is…kind of true.

Jar-Labels-1.jpg

What’s right:

Nuts should be stored in air-tight containers that also block out moisture to keep the oils in the nuts from going rancid. Mason jars achieve this!

Nuts can very easily absorb odors from the surroundings, so they need to be stored in non-permeable containers. Plastic bags would not be good, but glass Mason jars certainly fit the bill.

What’s kind of right and kind of wrong:

The oils in nuts will go rancid more quickly if they are exposed to too much heat. Ideally, they should be refrigerated or frozen. At the least, you should try to keep them somewhere that is less than 70F. So while my jars of nuts are probably fine on the shelf for most of the year, they should probably be refrigerated during the hottest months of summer.

This one doesn’t seem to make a huge difference if you only keep a small quantity of nuts on hand. At room temperature, the nuts will be good for two to four months. Refrigerated or frozen, they’ll be good for a year or more. I think I definitely go through my stock in fewer than 8-16 weeks!

What’s wrong:

In addition to exposure to moisture and heat, too much light can also cause nuts to go bad. Nuts should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place. Sadly, my Mason jars don’t fulfill this need.

To sum it all up:

Store your nuts and seeds in air-tight, non-permeable containers such as glass jars. Keep the jars in a cool and dark place. Room temperature is fine if you plan to use the nuts within 2-4 months. If you’d like them to keep longer, refrigerate or freeze the jars.


Finally, I read many reports that unsalted nuts last longer than salted. However, I can’t seem to find a scientific study that backs this up or explains why it is the case. And it is driving me nuts (pun intended).


What food do you want to know how to store?

Previous “How to Store Food” posts:

For more food science posts, check out my Brain Food 101 page!

Comments

  1. Claire says

    We stored nuts in the freezer the whole time I was growing up so I should have known this as an adult. Unfortunately, I didn’t remember until I had a large bag of Macadamia nuts go bad after storing them in my pantry. YUK! They even smelled bad.

  2. WendyRS says

    Salt has long been used a preservative. Back in the years before refrigeration, settlers would use salt to preserve meat that they had hunted. I would assume that is why nuts are preserved longer when they are salted.

  3. Karen says

    Not sure what audience your article is intended to, geographically speaking, but as anybody in the world can read it, it would be great if you specified what ‘room temperature’ you are talking about, as opposed to refrigerated or frozen.

    As far as my part of the world, average room temperature (30ºC) would make nuts go rancid is less than a month… :-(

    • Julie says

      You’re right, it is a very general term. In the United States, it is typically 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit, and that is the “definition” I was using. Thank you for pointing that out!

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