Shelf Life for Nuts and Dried Fruit

Napa Nuts fields a lot of questions every day.  We try to answer yes as often as possible.

“Do you carry any nuts from California?”

Yes! 4 in fact, Walnuts, Pistachios, Pecans and Almonds.

“Do you have anything I would like?”

Yes! We don’t know what you like yet, but with 200 different products, we can find something.

“Are you able to send something to my niece in Minnesota?”

Yes! Just tell us what she likes and give us an address.

“How long will this last on my shelf?”

Well… This is where it gets a bit complicated.

Firstly, there are tons of variables built in to this question.  Different products will have different shelf lives. Nuts will perform differently than dried fruit on the shelf.  It really just depends.

In order to answer one of our more frequently asked questions about how long our products will last, what follows is a description of some of the factors that will affect shelf life and freshness as well as how to make sure these products will stay the freshest.

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Temperature is the most important factor.

Heat is something that will quickly degrade the longevity of any nut or dried fruit.  Roasted nuts often go stale much faster than raw products. The act of roasting, or exposing the nuts to heat, starts to release some of natural oils in the nut.  This changes the chemical makeup of the nut and makes the meat more susceptible to other factors that degrade the freshness of the nut.

Oddly enough, dried fruit needs a little bit of heat in the drying process.  This then increases the shelf life of the fruit. Once dried, however, the moisture content of the fruit is optimized for freshness.  As with fresh fruit, the water in the fruit will start to evaporate. As heat speeds up evaporation, if not stored properly, a nice chewy piece of dried fruit can quickly turn into something with more of a dry leather consistency.  

The best solution is to store your nuts and dried fruit in a refrigerator.  You will protect your product from heat, obviously, and give yourself a bit better shelf life.  As a company with no minimum order quantity for our customers, we also suggest just buying enough for your needs.  If our customer needs 5 pounds per month, we would prefer that they order a pound a week rather than risk the product going bad by week 4.   Most products last much longer than a month, but this still illustrates our general philosophy.

Oxygen and water vapor in the air is the second problem.

Nuts and dried fruit can oxidize and absorb atmospheric moisture.  This is when the fruit or nut reacts with the natural gasses in our environment.  This will cause the product to spoil and the taste will degrade.

You will notice the oxidation process most quickly with the dried fruit.  The color will quickly change from a vibrant, natural fruit color to the more brown of a piece of fruit that is way past ripe.  The flavor will start to change at this point as well. We would recommend getting something fresher at this point.

For the nuts, the change is not as obvious.  The nut’s density will change a bit. The crisp crunch will be gone and the nut will be much softer as the nut starts to absorb water and oxygen.  There will start to be some bitterness in the flavor as the nut starts to turn rancid.

We always recommend keeping your nuts and dried fruit in an airtight container. This will limit the exposure to fresh air until you want to snack.

Our Product Storage Best Practices

  • Use your fridge and freezer for better temperature control

  • Keep your nuts and dried fruit in an airtight container

  • If you can’t store your nuts and dried fruit in a fridge or freezer, store them in a cool, dry place, out of the sun

  • Only order what you are going to eat soon, although it will last for a while, get the fresh stuff more frequently

Tradition With a Twist - How to Upgrade Thanksgiving

All of the people that actually do the cooking for Thanksgiving have developed their recipes over generations.  Most people rely on their favorites and don’t have a lot of variation from year to year.

Your guests, however, might love to see your creativity come through with a twist on your traditional recipes.  Napa Nuts is suggesting a few simple changes to your normal recipes that will add a lot of flavor and take very little extra effort.  Everyone has the guests that go for quantity over quality, but for those with a gormand in their group, they will be more impressed than ever with your Thanksgiving dinner.

Obviously we highly recommend Napa Nuts when you are making your pecan pie, but here are some other items you may want to add to your order this year.

 A Thanksgiving dinner in search of an upgrade

A Thanksgiving dinner in search of an upgrade

Your stuffing needs an upgrade or two, with nuts and dried fruit

The traditional stuffing is just bread and a few veggies.  It is a favorite every year, but with a few upgrades, you’ll be wondering what happened to you normal heap of leftovers.  We have a few possible additions that you can mix and match as you please. All of these flavors will add something special to the regular stuffing.  

  • Adding pecan pieces will add some toasty flavor and extra crunch.  

  • Adding orange cranberries will add some sweetness.  This is almost a two for one. There will be some tartness from the orange and the cranberry, and some sweetness as well.  You get a much more complex flavor profile that makes your guests happy.

  • Adding reduced sugar cranberries will create a nice bit of tartness to the savory stuffing.  For those people that cook the dressing inside the bird, and then eat it with the cranberry sauce, you can infuse the other foods with that cranberry flavor as well.  It is a really fun twist on the original.

  • Toasted hazelnuts are another fun way to add crunch and texture to your stuffing.  It adds a whole lot of “nuttiness” to the food.

  • Try a combination of a nut and a dried fruit.  There will be a whole new flavor profile and it will taste amazing.

Add toasted slivered almonds to your green bean casserole

Make your normal green bean casserole.  While it is cooking, lightly toast some slivered almonds on the stovetop or toaster oven.  They just need a few minutes to get to a beautiful golden brown.  When you are ready to serve the casserole, just drizzle the toasted almonds on top.  They will add a lot of flavor, a bit of crunch and a fun twist on your Thanksgiving staple.

Your yams need some candied pecans

We all love the sweet topping on the yams.  This year when you are making this sweet and starchy favorite, take some of our glazed pecans and then either place a layer on top of your yams, or lightly chop them and mix into your yams.  Either way, you will add a bit of sweet flavor which is wonderful with the yams. You will add a bit of toasty pecan crunch which compliments the sweetness.

Add pepitas to your apple pie

This one is a bit outside the box, but not to be missed.  Adding a bit of pumpkin seed to the crumble on top of your apple pie adds an extra layer of flavor that you didn’t know you needed.  The pumpkin seeds will add a hint of pumpkin flavor that adds a subtext of savory to this sweet favorite.

Ambrosia or Jello Salad with coconut

This is not the way my mom made this, but I wish she had.  As you are mixing up your jello salad or ambrosia, a bit of coconut really compliments the sweetness of the fruit.  Our sweet coconut flake, will make sure this is the sweet dish you need at the end of a savory meal. It will add a bit more of a tropical feel to your dish.

If you have any other ideas of how to upgrade your Thanksgiving dinner with dried fruit or nuts, please share in the comments.

2018 Holiday Gift Tins Featuring Napa Nuts and Dried Fruit

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The holiday gifting season is fast approaching.  

Everyone has those “hard to shop for” people on their holiday list.  There are times when you need to buy gifts for people that you don’t really know that well.  We have a solution for you.

A tin full of gourmet nuts, chocolates and dried fruit is a great present that will feel like a luxury, can be easily shared with a group or a family, and can be upcycled to something else.  Picking the right gift tin is not as tricky as it looks. If the contents of the tin are items that you like, other people will like them too.

In addition to the holidays, Napa Nuts offers many gift tins that are great gifts for any occasion—housewarmings, welcoming new co-worker, birthdays, anniversaries, or even to leave for your renter as you AirBnB your wine country property.

We have been working hard to create new gift tin options for 2018.  The marketing team, in conjunction with our onsite trained chef, came up with some new flavor combinations to give lots of options to anyone on your gift list. We are also excited to announce that all of our tins are now available at our online store.  And to top it off, we also allow for shipping tins to multiple addresses all in one order.

Here are some of our new tins for 2018  

The Sweet Delights Tin has a bit of everything for the sweet tooth on your list. The Orange Honey Almonds are coated with a crunchy orange essence and honey coating.  There is a bunch of chocolate fruit which is one of our best-sellers. Each item has real fruit on the inside, and chocolate on the outside that is also infused with fruit flavor.  And lastly our signature Gourmet Berry Mix is a real crowd-pleaser. It is a mix of almost every berry we carry.

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The Hot Hot Hot Tin is perfect for the spicy lover.  These are items that also pair well for the beer drinker on your list.  We combine our spicy and crunchy Sriracha Corn Nuts, with our cheesy and spicy Jalapeno Cheddar Almonds and a newer addition to our lineup—the Hot Chile Peanuts.  These are all very popular snacks with just the right amount of kick to not overpower the natural tastiness of the original nut.

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We don’t need to explain for whom the Chocolate Lovers Tin is designed.  Here we put our chocolate mixed fruit with our chocolate mixed nuts.  You can get a taste of most of our favorites in one place. In addition, this tin includes Cocoa Biscotti which is a favorite around the office.  Imagine those yummy biscotti cookies, but with way more chocolate than cookie.

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This is just a taste of the 30 different tins that we are offering for this holiday season.  Take a look at all of our options here. Please try to get your orders in a soon as possible, as we just keep getting busier.