Sometimes, I feel like a squirrel. Not because I’m small and just can’t leave dogs alone (although those are both true), but because I like to hoard nuts like winter is forever knocking at my door. To balance my love for nutty granolas and breads and pestos with the savings in my bank account (they’re not cheap!), I snatch up as many bags as I can of almonds or walnuts or pecans or cashews whenever I see a sale.
But, unlike squirrels—you can bet I’m going to keep running with this—I care if my stash gets stale or, worse, rancid. Nuts (and seeds) are high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats, and that delicate oil can decompose with exposure to light, heat, or even oxygen. Stored at room temperature, nuts will only last for a few months, so, to preserve my purchase as long as possible, I turn to my freezer.
My dark, cold drawer is the perfect spot to keep pepitas and pine nuts and any other nutty find. As soon as I bring my forages home, I transfer them to freezer-friendly zip-top bags to keep out as much air as possible. Safe in their undisturbed slumber, they’ll keep for up to a year. If you’re searching for space among your frozen containers of stock and cookie dough (or plan on using your nuts quickly), feel free to throw them in the fridge. Just keep in mind they’ll only last about 6 months. Whether you store in the fridge or freezer, wait until everything's come to room temperature before using (unless you love cracking a tough nut).
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Oh, to take your nutty dishes to the next level, toast your nuts before freezing. Cook's Illustrated tested whether freezing toasted nuts affects their texture by heating them up in a dry skillet until slightly darkened, then froze them in airtight bags. Even after a month, the frozen nuts tasted just as wonderful as their freshly toasted counterparts.
So, now you know the secret to squirreling away your nutty purchase, here are some great ways to go nuts with your stash: