When you purchase nuts for baking, cooking, or snacking, what do you do with them? Do you keep them in their original containers in the pantry, even if they've been opened? Or, do you immediately place them in the refrigerator or freezer? To get the answers to these food safety questions and learn more about proper nut storage, we reached out to the experts.
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"Nuts are high in unsaturated fats. These healthy fats can go rancid pretty easily, which affects taste and smell. That's especially true for higher-fat nuts like pecans," Isabel Maples, a nutritionist and registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells Hunker. In fact, if you buy your nuts from a store that doesn't regularly refresh its stock, you could even be purchasing rancid nuts. "Nuts sold in the produce section of grocery stores tend to be more expensive because they are fresher," Maples adds.
Once you've purchased your nuts, if you plan to use them within a few weeks, it's okay to store them in your pantry at room temperature. Beyond that amount of time, you should keep them in the fridge or freezer.
"Store shelled nuts in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container or freezer bag to keep them cold but away from humidity," registered dietitian Judy Barbe, author of Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest, tells Hunker. "They'll keep several months in the fridge and a year or more in the freezer. Take out what you need and pop the rest back in the freezer."
Overall, to increase your nuts' longevity, Maples states that you should limit light, heat, moisture, and oxygen. She adds, "Nuts will easily absorb strong odors from other pantry foods, like onions. They can also absorb moisture from fruits. Moisture will make nuts more susceptible to mold."
How to tell if your nuts are bad:
"Rancid nuts will taste bitter and lose their nutty aroma, often developing a musty or sour odor," Barbe says. "If they smell bad, toss them." Note: Nuts can be composted! Just make sure to crush the shells before adding them to your pile.