A nut primer

Early in the spring, I was cooking with a friend when he turned to me and said “I started putting my nuts in the fridge.”

I lost it and started laughing at the double entendre.

This friend is an older gentlemen, so I could see he was trying to keep a straight face and I tried to regain my professional composure, but before long he was smiling and telling me I was terrible with a wink.

Laughs aside, there is an important reason for putting nuts (and seeds) in the fridge.

Nut oils are sensitive to heat and light and to preserve freshness and health benefits, it is best to store them in the fridge.

In addition, there are a few other tips to keep in mind when it comes to buying, storing, and roasting nuts (and seeds). I present my top three tips:

Tip #1: Stick your nose in them and opt for raw.

Whether you are buying in bulk or a package, give nuts and seeds a good whif. If they smell at all off or like they’ve just been discovered from the back of the cupboard, they’re likely rancid and are no longer going to be beneficial. And when given the choice between raw or roasted, definitely choose raw and then follow tip #2 and #3.

Tip #2: Soak your nuts

Nuts (and some seeds) have a pesky component called phytic acid. This substance is beneficial to the plant and stores phosphorus, but blocks the digestion of certain vitamins and mineral in people, mainly calcium and iron. A good portion of phytic acid is broken down with a good soak. Soaking is also beneficial to try if nuts tend to feel heavy on your digestion. I follow the following steps:

  • Add sea salt to a bowl of water large enough to fit your nut of choice.
  • Taste the water. You want it to taste like the ocean.
  • Add the nuts and let ‘em sit overnight (up to 12 hours). Drain the water.

Tip #3: Roast low and slow

Now that the nuts are soaked and drained it is time to roast them. For all the health benefits of nuts and seeds, the chemical structure of the oils makes them less stable than olive oil, avocados, or butter, for example, so it is best to roast them at a lower temperature.

  • Set the oven to its lowest setting. Mine is 170’.
  • Spread nuts on a baking sheet and roast for 8-12 hours or until dried through and crunchy.
  • Let cool and store them...you guessed it...in a glass jar in the fridge. Or make this nut butter and then store it in the fridge ; )

I hope this clarifies any confusion around purchasing nuts and seeds and gives you useful tools to incorporate these healthy foods into your diet.

Happy eating!