Keep nuts around for a snack? You’re storing them wrong

You already know you should be eating almonds for a snack, or sprinkling chia seeds on your peanut butter toast.

But don’t invest in a huge bag of walnuts until you know how to properly store it: Walnuts go rancid a lot faster than you might think, according to Renee Zonka, dean of the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College.

Nuts are mainly fat — polyunsaturated fat, to be exact. These fats break down really fast, so they should not be stored at room temperature long-term, Zonka said.

“The best way is to throw them in the freezer and just pull out what you need. That will hold them for a very long time,” Zonka said.

“Throw the whole pound in the freezer in an airtight container, and then just pull what you need. They thaw out really fast, or you can throw them in your cookies and muffins frozen,” Zonka adds.

The same is true of seeds like Flax, Hemp and Chia — all should be stored in the freezer. Flax especially.

If you really go through nuts quickly, you can keep them at room temperature, but you need to use them up within a month, Zonka said. The higher the fat content, the faster they spoil. Zonka said Macadamia nuts, with their extremely high fat content, will spoil the fastest, followed by cashews and walnuts.

Pecans, peanuts and almonds are lower in fat and have a little more leeway.

Sealed cans and jars of nuts will have a little longer shelf life, but the ones you get at the bulk bins can go pretty fast, Zonka said.

And since food with a high fat content easily absorbs smells, don’t let nuts languish in the freezer forever, Zonka said. Use them within three to six months.

How do you know if the nuts are rancid? The taste will make it pretty clear (it’s kind of paint-like) but they will also give off a musky aroma when they’re bad.