Nuts pass off as nutritional substitutes for several food items. They are wonderful pantry items to stock. However, how long do nuts last? Do they rot? Read on to find out.
The almond tree had been grown in Iran for thousands of years, before being introduced to other regions like Mediterranean, East Asia and Europe.
Nowadays, cultivation is widespread not only in the Mediterranean, but also California which is listed among the top producers.
The almond tree produces different varieties of almonds, with the two major ones being sweet and bitter almond nuts. Dried sweet almond nuts are what we are used to using. Bitter almonds are commercially used for making almond extract as well as oil, although sweet almond oil is also common, especially for hair, skin and beauty regimens.
Almond nuts make wonderful snacks when roasted, used in granola bars, ground into flour which is highly popular in gluten-free recipes. Almond milk is also a popular non-dairy alternative, made from the nuts. These nuts have a somewhat buttery taste.
These are natives of Brazil but cultivation is also widespread in Asia and some parts of Africa.
Cashew nuts are one of the two distinct parts of a cashew fruit. There is cashew apple – which is a pear-shaped stalk or stem and the nuts, which are usually heart-shaped.
These nuts are enclosed in a double shell which is commercially removed as it serves industrial uses. Hence, store-bought cashew nuts are usually shelled.
Cashew nuts have a creamy, nutty flavor and pair well in granola bars, chopped and topped in crumbles, pureed into cashew butter, smoothies and baked products.
The aborigines of Australia used to savor these wildly growing nuts in the thick rainforests of eastern Australia. Thus, the tree has its origin in Australia.
They were later introduced in Hawaii in late 19th century and have been commercially grown there ever since. Cultivation became widespread in other regions.
There are several macadamia tree species, but only two produce edible nuts. Macadamia nuts are encased in one of the hardest shells to crack.
Nevertheless, these nuts are highly delicious and oily. They are also listed as some of the most expensive nuts. Enjoy them as snacks or puree into butter for slathering on toast or adding to smoothies.
These nuts have existed for thousands of years and are some of the earliest foods used in human diets.
They are often referred to as Persian walnuts as that is their place of origin. It is from ancient Persia that walnuts became dispersed through the Silk Road to other regions. For instance, English merchants carried them from ports and transported them throughout the world, hence obtained a new nickname – English walnuts.
Nowadays, walnuts are widely grown in China, U.S.A and also thrive in temperate zones.
Walnuts have wrinkled kernels with creamy brown nuts. They give off a mild, earthy and buttery taste. Eat them on their own or incorporate into both sweet and savory dishes.
The history of pistachios plays out in the Middle East. Here, they used to grow wildly in the deserts for thousands of years and were held in high esteem by local inhabitants.
Pistachios were not only considered loyal, but thought to have brought good fortunes.
In the 1880s, American traders imported them and by 1950s, pistachio cultivation had gained momentum in U.S.A.
Nowadays, California is the second largest producer of these royal nuts.
Pistachios have a split kernel, which resembles a smiling face. They have a green, minty hue with beige shells. These darlings are versatile and you can add them to your diets for improved health.
Pecans are the only nuts native to North America. Here, they grew wildly and were enjoyed by the Natives.
The name “pecan” was used by Native Americans to describe nuts cracked by stones. Pecans also grew wildly in Mexico, which is one of the chief producers up to date, apart from the U.S.
Pecans come in a variety of sizes – extra-large to very small. They have green husks which become brown when ripe. The brown nuts appear shriveled and have deep contours or stripes hence making the nuts appear split.
Hazelnuts belong to species of plants from the birch tree. There are more than 15 such species which thrive in north temperate zones of Europe and Asia. Other names used to describe hazelnuts are filbert or cobnut.
The European filbert is versatile and is used for food, soap making and perfume production. The tree is useful in producing soft timber used in producing wood products.
Other species are used for ornamental purposes in hedges and foliage.
Hazelnuts are oblong with chocolate brown hue. Use them both in sweet and savory treats, smoothies or plain as snacks. They also make a wonderful spread – hazelnut spread, which is popular for ice creams, cake frostings, spreading on toast or in baking.
Chestnut tree has its roots in numerous regions. Some species originated in the Mediterranean region, Asia and Europe. Immigrants brought them to the U.S.A. Other varieties can be found in Africa as well.
Highly valuable for their starchy contents, chestnuts are an integral part of numerous cuisines.
In some regions, they are used as carbohydrate substitutes.
Apart from this, chestnut trees are touted for their rot-resistance. Hence, they are widely used for tanning and timber production.
Did you know there are two major types of chestnuts – horse and sweet chestnuts? It is only the sweet chestnuts which are edible as their counterparts are highly poisonous.
Even so, sweet chestnuts are usually cooked before consumption. You can boil, roast or steam them.
Ensure you make slits on the hulls to prevent them from bursting. Chestnuts are a wonderful addition to soups, desserts and pasta toppings. You can also eat by hand.
These are the edible seeds of the pine tree.
Pine nuts are considered exotic and are highly expensive. This is because a lot goes into extracting the nuts from their hard casings. The trees also take ages to bear fruits – some even take a whopping 25 whole years.
Pine nuts are also called pignoli.
There are close to 20 species of pine nuts. They originate from different regions but have been in existence for thousands of years.
Pine nuts are small and can be tear-drop shaped or elongated with a creamy ivory hue.
They are soft and give off a sweet, buttery taste. When toasted, they add crunchiness to salads, pesto, hummus and baked products.
How long do nuts last?
Nuts have a fairly long shelf life but will eventually become unpalatable.
The shelf life varies depending on the state of the nuts. For instance, opened packages of shelled nuts will deteriorate faster than unshelled ones. On the other hand, unopened packages of shelled ones can last fairly long.
Nuts keep well in the pantry. However, you can also refrigerate or freeze them. Past the printed dates, most shelled ones will remain in good quality for up to 2 years, with pistachios and pine nuts being the only exceptions. These ones spoil faster and keep well for 1 – 3 months.
Flour or meal made from freshly ground nuts have a short shelf life. This is due to oil content. Avoid stocking up large quantities. Unopened packages of flour can stretch up to 4 months in the pantry. Opened packages stored in the pantry should be consumed before the best by date. You can also refrigerate opened packages as they will keep well for up to 1 year.
- Favorable storage conditions are a cool, dry area.
- Avoid contact with direct heat, moisture and sunlight.
- Always keep the containers or bags closed after each use.
- Replace any torn packages.
Nuts have high oily contents hence become rancid after sometime. Be on the lookout for the following:
- Taste for rancidity and replace them.
- Discolouration indicate expiration thus discard them.
- Visible mold growth also indicates spoilage.
- Liquid or watery fluids oozing out is a sure sign of decay.