Nuts are healthful and flavorful additions to baked goods and other recipes.
But if you don’t use them, they go stale.
First, they’ll loose their crispness and get soft. Then, the oils in the nuts will go rancid.
Factory-sealed bags have an expiration date, but that only promises that nuts in the unsealed bag will be fresh through that date.
The minute you open the bag and let the air in, the nuts will slowly start to degrade.
If you buy loose nuts, or those that have been packaged in cellophane or paper bags by the retailer, they’re even more susceptible to the elements.
Stale nuts will take on a musty or rancid smell; one bite will tell you if they’re still fit for use.
So today’s tip is how to rescue nuts that are not at peak.
First, Prevent Spoilage
To crisp soft nuts, spread them out on a cookie sheet or in a baking pan. Place them in a 250°F oven for 5 minutes. Taste, and if you want them crisper, roast them for another 5 minutes. Roasting or toasting nuts also enhances the nutty flavor. For maximum nuttiness, toast at 350°F for 10 to 20 minutes (or toast in a hot frying pan) until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
You can also try toasting the nuts in the microwave. Experiment in small increments to avoid burning: the time will vary based on your microwave and the nuts.
If the nuts are in the shell, shake them. Nutmeats that rattle in their shells are usually stale. Bake them in the shells at 225° for 2-1/2 hours. Let them cool 30 minutes before cracking and testing.
If the oil has turned rancid, try rinsing the nuts thoroughly under hot water. The surface oils, which are the most exposed, typically go bad first. You may be able to remove them.
Otherwise, you can leave the nuts for the birds and the squirrels.
Most of us don’t bake cookies every week. But we do make other foods that can be happily enhanced with nuts.
They’re too good for the squirrels, but if you want an exquisite nut experience (and holiday gift idea), check out the selection.
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