As the world of nutrition continues to convince us that not all fats are evil, more and more people are embracing the wonder that is nuts. Pecans, in particular, are a favorite thanks to their sweet flavor, ready availability in the US, and shockingly healthy nutritional value.
If you’re lucky enough to have a pecan tree nearby, you might be getting a year’s supply or more every fall harvest. Or perhaps you simply like the benefits of buying in bulk. Either way, you need to protect your pecans.
Can you freeze pecans to extend their life? Not only is the answer, yes, but you should freeze pecans to ensure they stay fresh and delicious for years. Pecans have a tendency to absorb the flavors from other nearby food items, or even from the frigid freezer air, so you want to be sure you have them sealed well before freezing.
In this article, we’ll take a close look at how to freeze pecans, how to store them if you don’t have any freezer space and everything else that you could possibly want to know about pecans.
Best Practices for Freezing Pecans
The absolute best way to store your pecans, and any nuts for that matter, is in the freezer. It’s a simple process, but well worthwhile to do right.
The best solution is to place all your nuts, whether they’re shelled or still in their shell, in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. For even more protection, place the sealed bag into a freezer-safe Tupperware container.
The reason you want to make sure you store them properly is that once they’re frozen, your pecans can maintain their freshly picked quality for 2 years or more.
Stored well, you can leave your shelled pecans in the freezer for up to 2 years, but if you’ve left them in their shells before freezing, they’ll stay fresh for another 2 years.
With a little bit of foresight and freezer space, pecans are definitely one food that makes sense to buy in bulk!
How To Thaw Frozen Pecans
To defrost your pecans, simply let them sit on your counter until they’re back to room temperature. It won’t take long, half an hour or less in most cases, so avoid the temptation to stick them in the microwave.
Adding heat to frozen nuts can not only destroy the quality of the nutrition, but it can also lead to chewy nuts and off flavors.
It’s best if you leave them frozen until you’re almost ready to use them. If you defrost them too early, store them still sealed in your fridge to maintain their freshness.
Alternative Ways to Store Pecans
If you’ve collected or purchased a supply of pecans only enough to last you through the week, you can safely store your pecans in a well-sealed Tupperware container or Ziploc bag. Just be sure to keep it out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dry location instead.
They’ll last this way for about a week, but don’t push your luck. Nuts can go rancid fairly easily if they’re exposed to heat, moisture or air.
For slightly larger supplies, you can also refrigerate your pecans. You’ll want to be just as careful with the storage in a fridge as advised for the freezer because there’s nothing worse than oddly tasting pecans.
Avoid tainting your nuts with outside flavors and odors by keeping them in a moisture-safe, airtight container. For the fridge, opting for a glass jar is a great solution. They’ll last this way for up to 6 months.
How To Store Pecans in the Shell
Keeping pecans in a shell will give them further protection from the oxidation that causes nuts to go rancid, as well as preventing neighboring smells and tastes from invading your nut.
A pecan in a shell will stay fresh in your fridge for up to a year, and in a cool, dry yet not refrigerated location for between 3 – 6 months, though you’ll want to keep a close eye on them for quality.
To store them in their shell, simply place all your nuts in a sealable container. They take up more space than shelled pecans, but they’ll stay fresh for much longer as long as there is no moisture getting into their container.
How to Tell if Pecans Have Gone Bad
There are 2 main ways to tell if your pecans have gone rancid:
- They taste terrible. Any nut that has gone off its prime will have a sour tang to it. In a large bag of mixed nuts its not uncommon to suddenly get a bitter nut, but you may not pay it much mind if you immediately chase it with another, fresher nut. However, if you notice a few nuts in your collection are less than their best, it might be time for a new supply.
- They smell bad. It’s hard to describe the smell of nuts that have gone bad, but it’s almost like paint or even paint thinner. It’s absolutely unappetizing and noticeable if a large batch of nuts has all gone rancid. You’re not as likely to smell one nut in a bowl, however.
If your pecans have gone rancid, its best to discard them and get a fresh batch. If they’ve merely gone stale, you may be able to bring some sweet flavor back, along with a delightful crunch.
Simply spread your nuts out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let them bake in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes at 350F. They’ll develop a delicious fried effect thanks to the high oil content.
Usually, if your nuts have gone bad it’s due to improper storage. With this particular nut, there may be another reason your pecans taste bitter.
Certain bugs are very attracted to the sweet sap of a fresh pecan. If you notice any dark spots on your nut, it may be the victim of a stink bug or leaf-footed bug. This won’t make them dangerous, but it will result in a noticeably less sweet nut.
Do you wash pecans before shelling?
You don’t have to wash pecans before you shell them, but some people find that they’re easier to crack if you boil them whole, in their shells for 10 minutes or so before you get to the slightly tedious job of shelling your nuts. Just be sure to let them cool before wrapping your fingers around them.
Is it OK to eat stale nuts?
If you eat a few stale or even rancid nuts it’s not likely to harm you in any significant way.
If you power through the bad taste and eat a large number of nuts that have gone bad, you may end up with indigestion or some other form of reaction to the poor quality.
Are pecans good for you?
Pecans are remarkably good for you. They have incredibly high levels of antioxidants, essential minerals, vitamins, and fiber, among other nutrients.
Aside from the good nutritional value, many people wonder are pecans fattening? Well, they’re great sources of healthy monounsaturated fat, which is good for your heart and overall health, but still calorically high.
Their nutritional value should encourage you to work them into a healthy eating plan but be aware of serving size.
Are pecans bad for dogs?
In general, it’s a good idea to avoid feeding your dog any nuts, as most of them have compounds that can be toxic to animals.
Pecans are among the least likely offenders, but salted or flavored pecans are no good for your pets, and if they’re eaten in a large quantity – which, depending on the size of your dog could be just one or two nuts – can cause digestion or blockage issues.
Finally, if your pecans or other nuts have even the slightest trace of toxin in them, it can be dangerous for your furred friend even if it wouldn’t register to humans. It’s best to avoid it.
Are pecans tree nuts?
There are plenty of seeds and even legumes that we tend to call nuts that aren’t really nuts, but pecans are, in fact, a true nut. They are also tree nuts and they’re also one of the only nuts that are actually native to the USA.
Are pecans Keto?
As far as nuts go, pecans are on the low end of the carbohydrate scale, so they’re as Keto friendly as possible and still have some carbs.
Per 100 grams of pecans, you’ll get about 4 net carbs. Compared to cashews, that come in at about 22 carbs (nearly your entire daily intake on a strict Keto diet), you’ll be able to enjoy all the healthy fats and nutrition nuts have to offer when you choose pecans.
Are pecans gluten-free?
Gluten is a protein that comes exclusively from wheat, so pecans are naturally gluten-free, yes.
If you have a serious allergy or sensitivity to gluten, however, when you purchase pecans that have been shelled or processed in any way, you want to be sure they were processed in a gluten-free facility so that there is no chance of any cross-contamination.