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More notes on Nutella: hazelnuts

February 12, 2009 | 11:11 am

Hazelnuts031361Among the many comments and e-mails I've gotten about this week's Nutella story have been a few concerning hazelnuts. As I mentioned in the piece, hazelnuts -- like all nuts, which have a high fat content -- can turn rancid easily, so it's important to purchase fresh ones and store them correctly.

The Hazelnut Council recommends that hazelnuts be stored in an airtight container in a dry place, ideally in the refrigerator.  Optimum storage temperature is 32 to 50 degrees, with a relative humidity of 50% to 65%. Stored under these condititions, hazelnuts should keep for 18-24 months. (The nuts can also be frozen, although they should be used immediately once they've been pulled from the freezer.) Hazelnuts also have a longer shelf life if they're raw, so resist the urge to toast larger quantities than you'll use right away. For this reason hazelnuts (74% of which are grown in Turkey) are mostly sold raw.

According to the Council, the best thing is to double-check the expiration date on any nuts you purchase, or ask to sample a few if you're buying from a bulk bin. You might also want to get into the habit of tasting a few before you go to the trouble of roasting--and peeling--them, just to make sure. 

-- Amy Scattergood

Photo: Courtesy Hazelnut Council