Part III: Storage, Flavoring, & Bulk Bins
So far we've talked a little about the varieties and the natural differences. We've also mentioned freshness. Now we want to talk about keeping nuts fresh.
We often get asked, "what's the best way to store nuts at home?" Living in California makes it easier. We typically have moderate and dry weather. It can definitely get hot and sunny out but we don't get a lot of moisture or humidity. The best way to store nuts in this type of weather is in a cool and dry place away from sunlight. Your cupboard will do just fine. We've even tested letting some almonds and walnuts sit in one of our 1lb bags on a table top for almost a whole year, opening it occasionally to grab a small handful to eat, and they surprisingly kept nearly all their crunchiness and natural flavors. Most wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
Now if you live in a really hot and humid area or just want to be sure that you maintain freshness, keep your almonds, walnuts, pistachios, or any nuts in the fridge or freezer. The key here is to treat them like ice cream and only take out what you're going to eat. Once you take the bag out from the fridge or freezer and into the ambient air, condensation usually starts to form and moisture gets onto the nuts. This gets them to go stale sooner. They lose their flavors and textures quickly. Storing them in the fridge or freezer keeps them fresh for a long time.
We haven't tried but we've heard they can last for up to 2 years! In fact, some of the larger brands out there will store nuts for 2 years and only sell what was harvested 2 seasons ago. It won't kill you but are you getting the best you can get? Probably not. And let's keep in mind that nuts are seasonal. You have to ask yourself how are these brands able to keep selling so many tons of nuts year round and keep them "fresh"?
Aside from giant freezers, roasting and flavoring nuts help to keep "freshness." OK, it's not really keeping freshness as much as it is masking it. Roasting and flavoring helps cover up any lack of natural flavors from a poor quality and aged nut. Your tastebuds are being overwhelmed with salts and additives that they can't focus on anything else. When you roast and flavor nuts or many foods for that matter, it becomes much more difficult to distinguish the quality and freshness of your food.
Hey, don't get me wrong though. Roasting and flavoring is fantastic! We enjoy BBQ, ranch, and chili lemon like everyone else. We just want everyone to know what they're getting. The nuts stop becoming the lead in the show and become more like the supporting cast. You can roast and flavor anything, and it doesn't have to be an almond, a walnut, or a pistachio. The natural flavors take a back seat. And when you roast them, the major nutrients remain intact but lots of the other natural health benefits like antioxidants are removed.
At True California, we want your health to be a focus. Our products are organic to be free of harmful pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs. And if we're eating for our health, why not eat naturally great tasting food? A big part of getting full natural flavor from our food means that we need to have high quality food and we need to keep them fresh.
OK so about those bulk bins. We love the bulk bins because they reduce waste and use of plastics. They're a whole lot more cost friendly for the seller and they do the planet some awesome goodness. The problem is that they're not air tight, and they even if they were air tight, it might not matter since people keep opening them up everyday. Oxygen and open air are factors that causes nuts to go stale quickly. 9 times out of 10 we get a mushy almond or the bitterest walnut ever when testing a sample from a bulk bin. It's not fresh and it's not good.
Don't walk away and abandon the bulk bins though. Nuts are seasonal so buy from the bulk bin when the food is in season. For almonds, walnuts, pistachios, we suggest buying from bulk bins in the winter time. That's the time they're usually fresh from the new harvest, haven't been frozen, and have not been sitting in the bin for too long. Plus, the temperature is lower during that time of the year.
When it comes to storage, keep nuts in a sealed away in a dry and cool area. The major elements that cause nuts to go bad are oxygen, sunlight, and moisture. Eating well doesn't mean living without flavor. We just need to be a little more informed about our foods. =)
Ready to get snacking? Try a bag today: