Nuts are great to use in both sweet and savory dishes. They’re slightly sweet, somewhat fatty, and provide dishes with texture and delicious nuttiness. But nuts can be expensive, so when you do buy them, you want to make very sure that you store them properly to ensure they last as long as possible, and that they won’t go rancid easily.
The high fat content is what makes nuts so nutritious and tasty, but it is also the reason why nuts are so prone to spoilage. When nuts are improperly stored, they can quickly go rancid. The fatty acids in the nuts are broken down by light and oxygen, which then give the nuts a soapy mouthfeel and bad aftertaste.
Walnuts, pecans, cashews, and peanuts are especially high in polyunsaturated fats, making it particularly susceptible to staling.
If you harvested fresh nuts (or perhaps bought them at a farmer’s market), you cannot store them in the same way you would store nuts that you bought at the supermarket. This is because fresh nuts have a higher moisture content than the ones you buy in store, and therefore need to be dried first. If you don’t remove this moisture, your nuts will soon be spoiled by molds!
Luckily, preparing fresh nuts is not that difficult. First remove the nuts from their shells or husks, and spread them onto a baking tin. You can either leave them to dry at room temperature (in a room with good air circulation) or you can bake the nuts in the oven at 90-100°F (32-38°C) for half an hour.
Once dried, you can store the nuts in the freezer for a minimum of 48 hours. This will kill all potential bug eggs that were present inside the nuts (don’t worry, the nuts you buy in store also go through this process!)
The right storage
In order to keep nuts safe from the damaging effects of oxygen, light, and bugs (that come from the environment), you’ll need to store them properly. The best option is glass jars that are airtight. This will not only keep the air out, but will also prevent the nuts from absorbing odors from other foods or spices.
Most nuts can actually be stored in the freezer. Seal them in a Ziploc bag and they can be stored for up to a year! The high fat content protects them from freezer burn, and the added advantage is you don’t even need to thaw them first – use them straight out of the freezer!