Walnuts are nutritious on their own but added to a dessert or savory dish, they are delicious and give any meal a stunning crunch. Walnuts are harvested in August until November, so it is difficult to find them all year round. To keep walnuts fresh, they can be refrigerated, but if you are looking for a longer storage solution, what do you do?
Can you freeze walnuts? Yes, you can freeze walnuts. Walnuts can be kept for 1 year in the freezer. Both unshelled and shelled walnuts can be frozen the same way. If the walnuts are in their original, unopened packaging, there is no need to prep them, you can simply put the package into the freezer.
Keep reading to learn more about freezing walnuts the right way!
How To Freeze Walnuts
Freezing walnut is exceptionally easy, and with a few simple steps, you can freeze your walnuts to keep them fresh to use later on and to stop them spoiling before they are used.
For any walnuts that are leftover from an opened pack, it would be best to place them into a freezable container. You can either choose to use a plastic freezer container which has the ability to seal airtight, or a sealable freezer bag.
Both options work well to keep air and moisture locked out, further preserving the nuts stored within. Remember to label the storage container with the freezing date before placing it in the freezer, so you have an indication on when to eat the walnuts by.
It is best not to freeze ground walnuts. If you are planning to use ground walnuts, rather freeze them whole and then ground them once they have been taken out of the freezer.
You should avoid processing the nuts, chopping or grounding them until you are ready to add the nuts to your meal. This helps to ensure the nuts have an optimal flavor once thawed.
Walnuts are notorious for picking up and absorbing odors of food stored near them. Because of this, it is so important to ensure that the storage container you have chosen for the walnuts will protect it from absorbing other flavors in the freezer.
If you want to freeze a pack of walnuts, but only want to use a few at a time, it is a good idea to freeze them in a way that they are easy to separate at a later stage.
To do this, you should place the walnuts spread out on a baking sheet. Place this in the freezer until completely frozen. Then transfer these frozen walnuts to an airtight container or storage bag.
This way, the walnuts will not be frozen together, and it will be easy to grab a handful from the packaging, rather than defrosting the whole batch.
Why You Should Freeze Walnuts
Walnuts go rancid easily when exposed to warm temperatures. This is due to their high oil content, which allows them to spoil quickly if left at room temperature for a period of time.
Keeping them chilled in the fridge or freezer extends their shelf life dramatically.
Becoming rancid happens when there is prolonged exposure to warm temperature, temperature changes, oxygen or moisture.
That is why it is so important to store your walnuts carefully, preventing them from being exposed to these factors, and in turn preventing them from turning rancid.
An unopened bag of shelled or in-shelled walnuts kept in the pantry will stay fresh for up to 3 weeks. If kept in the fridge, walnuts can stay fresh for up to 6 months. However, kept in the freezer, walnuts will stay fresh for up to 1 year.
The walnut will be fine to eat after this but will lose its great quality after this period of time.
When storing walnuts, it is best to rather leave the bag unopened until you are ready to use the nuts.
Defrosting and Reheating Walnuts
It is just as easy to defrost walnuts as it is freezing them. The best way to do so is to transfer the walnuts straight from the freezer to the fridge, and allowing them to thaw for a few hours or overnight.
You do not need to reheat the walnuts if you are planning on cooking them, they can be thrown into the meal and they will defrost from there.
You can leave the walnuts out at room temperature to defrost, which will be quicker than leaving them in the fridge, but by doing this, you run the risk of the walnuts being exposed to room temperature for too long, which as stated above, for a certain period of time, the walnuts could spoil due to their high-fat content.
You can also toast the walnuts straight from the oven, to give them a rich, toasted flavor.
Toasting walnuts in the oven
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Lay the shelled walnuts spread across the baking pan.
- Place the walnuts in the oven and toast them for 5 to 10 minutes until the walnuts turn golden brown.
Toasting walnuts on the stove
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Place the walnuts carefully in the skillet.
- Remember to not overfill the skillet with walnuts, just fit in enough to allow the walnuts to cook evenly.
- Stir the walnuts occasionally.
- Allow them to brown for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the walnuts to a plate and leave them to cool for a few minutes.
Shelled Vs Unshelled
Unshelled walnuts keep for longer than shelled walnuts, thanks to the cover of the shell. These need to be kept in a cool, dark place away from sunlight.
To ensure your walnuts keep the best quality, it is best to leave them unshelled. The shells of walnuts work as an excellent protective barrier, and therefore unshelled walnuts have a longer life span and fewer storage requirements.
If you are purchasing walnuts, rather look to purchase unshelled ones. While it might be laborious having to shell them, at least you can be sure that the walnuts will remain fresher for longer.
Shelled walnuts turn rancid much quicker, and they need to be refrigerated or frozen to prolong their shelf life.
You are able to tell if walnuts have gone bad with a few simple observations. For unshelled walnuts, you can look for signs that the shell has shrunk and dried out, and just has an unhealthy look. If this happens, you should throw the walnut away.
If you are unsure, you can crack the shell and look inside. If there is a net forming on the walnut, or if there are any signs of mold, it should be thrown away.
You can also sniff the walnut. Fresh walnuts have a mild nutty aroma. If the walnut instead smells like rancid oil, or even cooking oil, it is rancid and should be thrown away.
Rancid nuts are not necessarily very dangerous to your health, but their nutritional content does diminish, and they will not have the greatest taste. Therefore, it is best just to throw them away.
Can you freeze mixed nuts?
Most types of nuts can be frozen, even nut flours. It is best to freeze nuts if you are not planning on using them straight away.
With nuts such as peanuts, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts, you can wrap them in plastic wrap and place them into a freezer bag, or store them in an airtight container to be put safely into the freezer.
How do you store nuts in the fridge?
You would store nuts in the fridge the same way you would if you were freezing them. Keep the nuts in an airtight container, a plastic sealable freezer bag, or their unopened, original packaging in the fridge.
Nuts stored this way will stay fresh for 6 months in the fridge, prolonging their shelf life without you having to thaw them from the freezer. Nuts in the freezer can stay fresh for up to 1 year.
Do nuts go rancid?
Due to the high fat and oil content in nuts, they do eventually go rancid. The nuts will either have an off smell, a dry, shriveled appearance, or have a poor taste.
In severe cases, rancid nuts can be infected with mold as well. If you notice any signs of spoiling, the nuts should be thrown away and not used.
Rather be safe if you aren’t sure and buy a new bag of nuts, and store them properly in the fridge or freezer to prevent them from becoming rancid too soon.
Walnuts can be frozen, and they fair very well in the freezer. If stored correctly in an airtight container, a plastic freezer bag, or in their original, unopened packaging, walnuts can stay fresh in the freezer for up to 1 year.
Walnuts can become rancid if left at room temperature, especially in humid conditions. So to be safe, you should always store your walnuts in the fridge or freezer, depending on how long you need to keep them stored for.