Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Nuts are a good source of fiber, healthy fats, B vitamins, and antioxidants. They also are filling, portable, and tasty, making them a natural addition to your emergency food pantry.
However, you should consider nuts as a form of produce and, as such, you need to store them correctly to avoid spoilage. This article offers guidelines on what nuts you should stockpile and how to store them for the best results.
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Nut Storage Basics
By definition, nuts are dry, single-seeded fruits that have a high oil content and usually are encased in a solid outer shell. Chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans closely meet this botanical definition. However, although most people call them nuts, peanuts and almonds do not fit the meaning. Peanuts are legumes, and almonds have a fleshy and a fleshy coat rather than a shell.
As with many other foods, the main enemies of stored nuts are temperature, oxygen, moisture, and light. Pantry moths also are attracted to nuts.
Many nuts will last about three months on the pantry shelf, one year in the refrigerator, and three years in the freezer. However, this shelf life can significantly vary depending on storage conditions, type of nut, and whether the nuts are shelled, roasted, or in whole pieces. Let’s take a look at those variables.
- Generally speaking, unshelled nuts last longer than shelled ones – as much as 20 to 50 percent longer. The shell helps protect the nut meat from oxygen, heat, and humidity.
- Unopened packages tend to last longer than opened ones.
- Whole nuts can last at least twice as long as chopped ones.
- Unroasted nuts can last up to four times longer than roasted nuts.
- You must thoroughly dry the nuts you harvest yourself before storing them.
Despite these variables, some types of nuts are just more prone to spoilage than others due to the amount of fats they contain.
How to Tell if Nuts are Spoiled
Trust your senses when it comes to the condition of stored nuts. Rancid nuts smell bad. Some people describe the odor as something like dirty socks, nail polish remover, or paint.
Spoiled nuts also may have an unusual color and may look or feel crumbly or greasy. Eating rancid nuts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and pain in the digestive tract. So, if your nut supply seems off, it’s best to throw it out.
Even when stored in optimal conditions, chestnuts, pistachios, and pine nuts can deteriorate quickly. Nuts that are better for long-term storage include cashews, hazelnuts, and walnuts. Here are general timelines for storing different types of nuts in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.
- Almonds. Almonds last for nine to 12 months in the pantry, one year in the refrigerator, and two years in the freezer.
- Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts last for nine months in the pantry, one year in the refrigerator, and one year in the freezer.
- Cashews. Cashews last for six to nine months in the pantry, one year in the refrigerator, and two years in the freezer.
- Hazelnuts. Hazelnuts last for four to six months in the pantry, one year in the refrigerator, and one year in the freezer.
- Macadamias. Macadamias last for six to nine months in the pantry, one year in the refrigerator, and two years in the freezer.
- Peanuts. Peanuts (considered a legume) last for six to nine months in the pantry, one year in the refrigerator, and two years in the freezer.
- Pecans. Pecans last for six months in the pantry, one year in the refrigerator, and two years in the freezer.
- Pine nuts. Pine nuts last for one to two months in the pantry, three to four months in the refrigerator, and five to six months in the freezer.
- Pistachios. Pistachios last for three months in the pantry, one year in the refrigerator, and three years in the freezer.
- Walnuts. Walnuts last for six months in the pantry, one year in the refrigerator, and one to two years in the freezer.
How to Store Nuts for the Best Long-Term Results
To minimize spoilage, you’ll want to choose storage containers and locations that reduce the nut’s exposure to light, heat, moisture, and oxygen.
Cool, dark, and dry places are ideal for pantry storage. For more extended storage, consider the refrigerator freezer. Be sure to label each container with the storage date so that you can rotate out your supply.
Choose airtight, sealable containers, such as Mylar bags and Mason jars. You can place smaller bags or containers within a food-grade five-gallon bucket for added protection from pests and the elements. The addition of an oxygen absorber can help prolong shelf life.
Here are some other tips for nut storage.
- Make sure nuts are completely dry before storage. Moisture can cause mold and bacteria to develop.
- Avoid buying nuts from retail store bulk bins. There is no way to tell how long the nuts have been in the bin and how much oxygen and bacteria they have been exposed to.
- Nuts can absorb the odors of other things. Keep them away from other strong-smelling foods and any chemicals or cleaning products.
Nuts are an important addition to your survival pantry. They are nutritious and portable, and you can eat them without any preparation – a crucial factor during a power outage. You also can use them in baked goods, on salads, or as a snack. Most nuts are high in “good” fat content, low in carbohydrates, and an excellent source of nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium, and selenium.
Here are some further resources on nut nutrition, nut storage, and nut recipes.
- Nuts: Safe Methods for Consumers to Handle, Store, and Enjoy
- Health Benefits of Nut Consumption
- Quick-start Guide to Nuts and Seeds
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