Learn how to store nuts the right way for your pantry. Squirrel away nuts for long-term storage with these handy tips.
Proteins are one of those long-term food storage items that people worry about the most, especially if they aren't canners. You can store fish, meats, quinoa, broths, but have you thought about storing nuts, too? They are a perfect addition to your basic pantry staples.
Because of their high-fat content, nuts and seeds aren't great for long-term storage on your pantry shelf without a little preparation (just like avocados). Rancidity of oils in nuts is caused by oxygenation. So to make sure that the oils in the nuts don't go rancid over time, we need to find a way to take care of that issue before we begin to store them long-term. So here are five ways you can extend the life of your nuts (and seeds!) for your pantry and extended pantry (the freezer is included!)
How to Store Nuts for Your Pantry
Nuts purchased from your grocery store come three ways: in bulk, in plastic or cellophane bags, or in vacuum-sealed containers.
The vacuum-sealed containers can be left as they are until you're ready to open them and begin to eat them. But the bulk or plastic bag versions need to be taken care of so that they don't go rancid over time.
You might also get nuts in the shells as well as the nutmeat itself. Storing in the shells gives you a longer shelf life, but we all know having nut meat is just so much more convenient. Full-shell storage should be done by vacuum sealing, while nutmeats can be done a variety of ways.
The easiest and best way to store your nuts is to freeze them.
This inhibits the oils from going rancid. You don't even have to flash freeze them, I just throw them in freezer storage bags for short-term use (the ones I use a lot, like snacking on pecans because they're my favorite!), or use a vacuum sealer for longer storage. Remember, while the freezer is a great way to help preserve our food storage, you shouldn't count on it as your sole means of storage because of the risk of power failures.
If you don't have a vacuum sealer, but would like to store your nuts in the freezer in a more insulated fashion, double bag your zip tock freezer storage bags. Even with the name brand, doubling up offers you more protection for longer periods, and it's doubly important if you are using off-brand bags which tend to be thinner.
Storage Time: Up to 3 years with proper storing (thought quality might suffer towards the end).
Vacuum Sealing Nuts
Vacuum sealing is a way to remove air out of a container to reduce the risk of oxygenation. If you have a vacuum sealer (such as a Food Saver, Rival Seal a Meal, Nesco or another brand), you have two options
- Vacuum seal in a storage bag;
- Vacuum seal in a mason jar - using the vacuum sealing attachment appropriate for your regular or wide mouth jar.
If you're curious why I have a straw in this photo...head over to my Instagram where I give a quick little tutorial on how to use it for faux-vacuum sealing!
However, just remember, storing in a zip-top bag is for short-term storage only. Eventually, air will permeate the bag.
If you don't have a vacuum sealer, you can use oxygen absorbers to accomplish the same task. They take about 18-24 hours to work, but they absorb the oxygen into themselves instead of vacuum sealing it. It is a one-time use item, so if you open the jar, you'll have to replace the O2 absorber or vacuum seal it for continued long-term storage.
I have even been known to vacuum seal smaller packages of nuts into jars for the pantry. I tend to only keep pecans and walnuts in the freezer. We use other nuts for snacking or small projects, and they make more sense to vacuum seal this way for me, than to use up freezer space. Since I usually just purchase these in small bag quantities, this is a perfect storage solution for me.
* One caveat to this: I've used Dry Canning as a secondary way of explaining vacuum sealing. It is not the oven canning method that many do - which is not a safe preservation procedure for your long-term storage.
Storage Time: Up to 1 year .
Canning Nut Meat
There are two schools of thought about canning nuts. One school says the risk of salmonella is very low, but a risk, thus the USDA canning regulations don't offer a procedure to can nuts. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has withdrawn its information on how to can any nut meat, with the exception of green peanuts (which we all know are really legumes). The risk of moisture seeping into the jars during the canning process is where the risk really lies. So while you might find some instructions on canning nut meat from the second school of thought, do so with the understanding that the USDA considers there to be some risk.
Soaking & Dehydrating Nuts
Soaking nuts releases the enzyme inhibitors, making them easier to digest for us, and gives us more nutrition from them. Dehydrating then allows them to be crunchy the way we're so used to having them. Then you can proceed to your normal long-term storage options. It really is as simple as soaking, draining and throwing on a dehydrator. Check out the tutorial at GNOWFGLINS on the exact way to do it (though..my 'el-cheapo' dehydrator is a champ and has been running for a couple of years now full force without a problem at all!)
Making Nut Butters
Nut butters won't last forever, but it's another option for getting good fats and proteins into your diet. It can store in a cool place for a while, even without refrigeration, especially for those of you who have good, cool root cellars. But refrigeration definitely allows it a longer shelf-life. The non-organic peanut butters that you purchase at the store have preservatives in them to help the peanut butter last longer on the shelf. The best nut butters to purchase are those that are just nuts and maybe salt if you prefer it. But, if you have nuts that you want to rotate and add to your pantry storage, here are a few tutorials to use:
- Almond Butter
- Roasted Peanut Butter
- Cashew Butter
- Walnut Butter
- Nut or Seed Butters
- DIY Nutella if you want to kick it up a notch 🙂
You can use these nuts to increase the nutrition levels of your pancakes, too!
So don't be afraid to store nuts in your home for longer-term storage. They are a valuable source of proteins, vitamins, healthy fats, and minerals that can be an alternative for your extended pantry.
Belinda R says
I am trying to make pecan flour for long term storage. This is the process as I understand it below. Would you please give me your input and tell me if steps could be eliminated or added. Will advice pertain to most nuts and seeds? I purchased raw nuts, Should I soak them for flour? I will dehydrate them until dry. I will then run them through a grinder, pack them into jars with a desiccant pack and seal them with a vacuum jar sealer. Will it be safe for shelf storage and if so how long would you recommend? I can always freeze but would love to save freezer space. I have learned so much from you site. Thank you big, for your help!
I would not store the flour long-term. Nuts should be frozen for best storage, and the flour is no exception because of its fat content. Certainly, soak and dehydrate your nuts. That is to gain the most benefit from the meat. However, dehydrating doesn't extend their life at all, and they should still be stored in the freezer. Then grind as you need it. When you grind, you are exposing more of the surface area to oxygen, light and moisture, thus decreasing shelf-life. Of course, if you wish to store that flour in the freezer, you can, and it will helps some.
How long can I expect the vacuum sealed nuts will last past the listed expiration date on the package?
As stated in the article, for about a year. They aren't expiration dates, by the way, but best by dates - they are still good after the date, but the quality may not be at it's best.
Trudi Clark says
I am a recent widow and I haven’t adapted to grocery shopping for just one person, so I really appreciate hints to store food for the longest possible time.
I hope some of these helped! My condolences!