Why You Shouldn't Store Nuts In the Pantry

Proper storage means keeping your nuts fresh for up to a year, instead of finding a rancid surprise when you least expect it.

bowls of different nuts on wooden surface
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Do you store nuts in your pantry? It seems like a logical place, after all it's dark and cool and your potatoes seem to like it in there, so why not nuts? But if you're storing your nuts in your pantry, you might want to pivot, because your freezer is actually the best place to keep them fresh.

Why Not the Pantry?

The pantry is a fine place to store an unopened package of nuts for a couple of days, but if you want to maximize their lifespan, take them straight to the freezer. Nuts are a high-fat food with a majority of that fat being unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are more delicate than saturated fats. That fragility makes them more susceptible to rancidity when exposed to air, light, moisture or heat. And rancid nuts are a quick way to ruin your recipe (and your appetite).

The Best Way to Store Nuts

Remember, nuts don't like air, light, moisture, or heat. That makes them a bit high-maintenance, sure, but luckily there's a spot in your kitchen that's just perfect for them. That's right, it's the freezer and Bryan Roof, Editorial Director at Cook's Country agrees. He says that the freezer is the best place to store nuts because it's dark and cold in there. Same goes for seeds.

But does that frigid temperature have a negative impact on the flavor? Amanda Baker Lemein, MS, RD, VP of Nutrition and Wellness at Golin who works with the National Peanut Board confirms the opposite. The cold temperatures actually have little impact on the flavor of nuts, thanks to their low water content.

Roof recommends placing nuts in an air-tight container (a zip-top bag works great) and removing as much air as you can before sealing and storing. As for how long, most raw, whole nuts (if shelled) will retain quality from 6 months to a year in your freezer. Unshelled nuts will last a bit longer, usually around 1 1/2 years.

How to Make This Work for You

It may seem inconvenient to store your nuts in the freezer. And if your freezer is anything like mine, you have to dig through the abyss to find anything you need. But you've spent your precious money on these nuts, so let's tackle some ideas for how to make freezer storage work for you.

  1. Mark your container. Grab some tape and a permanent marker to label and date your nuts before you put them in the freezer. If it helps, also write the date when you'd like to use them by, that way you'll be sure to enjoy them in a reasonable time frame.
  2. Designate space. Put your nuts in a designated spot in your freezer so that they're easy to find. Better yet, put the nuts you'll be reaching for most often towards the front, so that you can grab them and go.
  3. Use the right container. An air-tight container is your best option for storing nuts in the freezer. Jessie Carpenter, MS, RD owner of Nutrition Prescription LLC recommends an air-tight jar, zip-top bag, or other food-safe container with a tightly-fitted lid. You could also utilize a vacuum sealer for optimal freshness.

The Bottom Line

To keep your nuts tasting their best and lasting for a while, we recommend storing them in an air-tight container in your freezer. Most nuts should keep for up to 1 year when stored that way. Label your container with what's inside as well as the day you store it and your preferred "use-by" date. Place the container in a designated spot so you can find it easily. Then simply pull out what you need as you need it, because frozen nuts can be enjoyed straight from the freezer.

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