Food storage: Beans, seeds, nuts, and grains

Can you just stuff all your beans, nuts, and seeds in the cupboard? Here are the real goods.

Dried beans are a cinch to keep.

  • Most types of beans will keep well if sealed in an airtight container that is placed in a cool, dry, and dark spot. The back of the cupboard is the best for beans.
  • Well-stored beans will start to lose moisture after 1 to 2 years.
  • Cooked beans can be kept covered in the refrigerator for about 5 days.

Tofu and miso paste are both derived from soybeans but require different storage solutions.

  • Tofu should always be refrigerated. Once its container has been opened, tofu should be rinsed and returned to a container, in which it must then be covered with water and returned to the fridge. Change the water each day to keep tofu fresh for about 3 to 5 days. If left unopened, tofu can be frozen for up to 5 months with some changes to color and texture.
  • Miso paste will keep for up to one year if stored in the fridge in a tightly sealed container.

Seeds, nuts, and grains would seem like the kinds of things that get stashed in the pantry. Not so fast!

  • Most seeds should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, including sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Un-hulled sesame seeds should be kept in a tightly shut container in a cool, dry, dark place, but once sesame seeds lose their husk, they may become rancid and should be put in the fridge or freezer for safe keeping.
  • Since nuts contain a good amount of fat, they can become rancid. Shelled peanuts, walnuts, and almonds should all be kept in tightly sealed containers in the refrigerator, where they will remain fresh for up to 1 year. If nuts are kept in a freezer, their shelf life extends to 1 to 2 years. Certain varieties like pine nuts tend to expire much quicker, so it's best to use these sooner rather than later.
  • Brown rice will keep fresh best – up to 12 months – if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. White rice needs an airtight container, too, but it will hold up fine in a cool, dry place.
  • Oats, rye, and spelt grains should be stored in an airtight container and stowed in a cool, dry, dark spot, where the grains will keep for several months. Wheat flour and spelt flour would do better kept in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent rancidity.
  • Fresh corn should be eaten as near to the time of purchase as possible. If you plan to eat it within a couple of days after purchase, keep corn in its husk to retain flavour. Frozen corn can keep for 6 to 8 months. To prepare for the freezer, cook or blanch it first and place in a freezer bag.

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