If you take your time to look, walnuts may be one of the strangest-looking foods we eat. The wrinkly, brain-like shape of it is pretty bizarre. But, what they lack in aesthetics, they make up for in utility, health benefits, and flavor.
Walnut flesh comes in two ways: in its shell or de-shelled. Due to processing, the meats may be whole, half, or in smaller pieces. And they can be used in a variety of ways. They can be eaten raw, toasted, or pickled on their own, or as part of a mix like muesli, or as an ingredient in a meal like walnut soup, fudge, banana cake, coffee cake, walnut pie, or brownies.
Additionally, walnuts have quite a few health benefits. They are good for the brain and your heart. They’re mood-boosting. And lastly, they can support weight loss and gut health.
One thing with walnuts, though, is that due to the high oil content they can become rancid if they’re not stored properly. And you can store them in a couple of ways. But, can you freeze walnuts? Yes, you can freeze walnuts.
Can Walnuts be Frozen?
Yes, walnuts can certainly be frozen. And it’s quite easy to do it! You also don’t need to worry whether you have shelled walnuts or unshelled walnuts, they can be frozen the same way.
Freezing walnuts is actually one of the best ways to store them long-term. This is because, as I alluded to previously, the high oil content can make them turn rancid quickly. Specifically, it’s the walnuts’ healthy polyunsaturated fat that makes appropriate storage crucial. Walnut oil will alter and turn rancid if exposed to warm temperatures for an extended length of time.
Storing walnuts in the freezer allows you to store them for much longer periods of time than when they’re stored at room temperature or even in the fridge.
Why You Shouldn’t Freeze Ground Walnuts
You should avoid freezing ground walnuts because the results won’t be as good as if you were to grind the walnuts after they’ve been stored in the freezer.
By freezing them whole and then grinding them after, you can best preserve their taste and texture.
How To Freeze Walnuts
Freezing walnuts is very easy. There are only a couple of things you need to keep in mind when doing it, and it’s pretty hard to mess it up. These same methods can be used for both opened or unopened walnuts.
First up, if you have an unopened package of walnuts then there is almost no work involved at all. All you need to do is simply label the package with the date you put it into the freezer and then place it in the freezer.
If you have loose walnuts, whether they’re from an opened package or from a walnut tree, then you should first make sure to put them in an appropriate container before you freeze them.
You can either put them into a freezer bag or a sealed airtight container. Either works just as well to keep them fresh and the moisture out as the other as long as they’re airtight. Make sure to label the container or plastic bag with the date and then place it in the freezer.
Aside from choosing an appropriate container, the only other thing you should keep in mind when storing walnuts in the freezer is that walnuts can easily absorb odors from other foods. So, to prevent this from happening, try to place them in a location in the freezer that is far from other foods that may give off strong odors.
Lastly, while it’s not vital if you plan on only using a few walnuts at a time, you should freeze them in smaller, individual portions. This way you don’t have to repeatedly take out the walnuts from the freezer. The repeated freezing and defrosting may also have a negative impact on the walnuts. It’s also just a more convenient method.
How Long do Walnuts Last in the Freezer?
When you freeze walnuts, you can greatly increase their shelf-life. They can last between 18-24 months when stored in the freezer. This is much longer when compared to other methods. In the pantry, they can only last for about two to four weeks, and in the fridge, they can last for about 9-12 months.
Since they really don’t lose any of their quality after they’ve been frozen, it’s almost silly not to freeze them. Especially since walnuts can be quite expensive and it’s a shame to see them go to waste.
How to Thaw Walnuts
Just as when you freeze walnuts, thawing is just as simple. There are a few different ways, though. And some of them require a bit more effort than others. The best way to do it, like with other foods, is to put the walnuts directly into the fridge from the freezer. You can leave them for a few hours or overnight.
A slightly riskier method is leaving them out at room temperature. I say it’s a bit riskier because as I said before, they can get rancid when they’re kept at room temperature. So, to keep them fresh, longer but without freezing them, you can put them into the fridge after they’re defrosted to keep them in top shape, longer.
If you plan on using the frozen walnuts in your cooking, there really isn’t any need to thaw them. You can simply toss them into the meal and they’ll defrost amidst the meal when it’s cooking. However, this may depend on what exactly you’re cooking and you may only want to do this in certain situations.
One more method you can choose is toasting the walnuts in the oven. First, you should preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, line a baking pan with parchment paper and then lay the walnuts (shell removed) across the baking pan. And finally, place the baking pan in the oven and toast them for about five to ten minutes, or until they turn a golden brown.
Can You Refreeze Walnuts?
Technically, yes you can certainly refreeze walnuts. And compared to other foods, refreezing walnuts won’t have such a disastrous effect on them.
But, it can depend on how you plan on using them because any additional refreezing will have a slight impact on the texture.
So, if you plan on cooking them or grinding them, then the effects can hardly be noticeable. However, if you plan on eating them plain, then it’s perhaps not a good idea to refreeze them as the change will be more noticeable.
How to Tell if Walnuts Have Gone Bad
Since there is such a high oil content in walnuts and other nuts, they’ll certainly go rancid if they’re not stored properly. It’s quite easy to tell if they’ve gone rancid though through your sense.
Rancid walnuts will give off an off smell. They will also have a shriveled appearance. And lastly, they will taste bad. Hopefully, you’ll be able to tell before you taste them, however.
If they are seriously rancid, they can also be covered in mold. If you notice any of these signs then you should throw them away.