Nuts and seeds are a regular feature in my home cooking. I use them in bliss balls, sprinkle on salads, blend into salad dressings, pestos, dukkah, baking...the list goes on!
Because I like to have a range of nuts and seeds on hand in the kitchen, I buy them in bulk, saving me both money and time. When buying in larger quantities, it is important to store nuts and seeds correctly to avoid them going rancid and wasting your money.
Unfortunately, nuts and seed have a limited shelf life. They contain oils from healthy unsaturated fats which can easily spoil and go rancid if exposed to heat, light and oxygen. Not only does this make them taste bitter and gross but it can also be harmful for your health. I have listed some tips below to help you look after your nutritional power-houses and get the most out of them, whether you buy in bulk or not.
- Buy local and fresh where possible
Buying nuts grown locally means the nuts are likely to be more fresh and therefore last longer when you buy them and take them home. Buying Australian macadamias instead of those grown in Hawaii, for example, also supports the Australian food growers industry.
- Store in air tight jars or containers
Storing in an airtight jar or container limits the exposure to oxygen which can, funnily enough, oxidise the nuts and seeds, making them go rancid more quickly. It is a pretty obvious tip I know, but in a rush we often just roll up the bag after it has been opened or chuck a lackey band around it. I re-use old coffee jars to store my nuts and seeds.
- Keep them cool
Nuts and seeds will last approximately a few months if kept in a cool, dark pantry, 6 months if kept in the fridge and 12 months in the freezer. Like I mentioned, I buy nuts and seeds in bulk and store them in the freezer, topping up a glass jar as needed to keep in the pantry. I love the fact that I can just 'go shopping' by visiting my freezer and topping up my supplies.
"What if I only have limited freezer space?" When buying in bulk, you will quickly use up your freezer space and this can make it tricky. I looked on Gumtree and picked up a spare freezer for cheap. It has definitely been a worthwhile investment.
- Buy whole and raw
Nuts and seeds which have been chopped, roasted or ground into a flour or meal are prone to going rancid more quickly as their oils are released and exposed to more oxygen. Try roasting nuts yourself and grinding them to make your own flour or meal. Nuts toasted at home taste so much better and maintains their freshness.
If you are like me (and many other people out there!) with gut issues, I highly recommend activating your nuts by firstly soaking them overnight and then dehydrating them in the oven or a dehydrator. This process not only increases your ability to absorb their nutrients and promote proper digestion, it makes them more crunchy and delicious!
- Prioritise your nuts
Some nuts are higher in oils than others and therefore more prone to spoiling and going rancid. If you have limited fridge or freezer space I recommend prioritising macadamias, pine nuts and brazil nuts. Peanuts, pecans and walnuts will be the next to go, with almonds and cashews being the most hardy.