How to Buy, Care For & Store Walnuts

Learn how to select, care and store walnuts for maximum freshness.

Buying Tips

California walnuts are harvested late August through November and then stored in cold storage to maintain freshness. Walnut handlers shell walnuts as needed throughout the year to fill orders from retailers globally. Keeping walnuts cold and in-shell as long as possible ensures that consumers will receive high-quality, fresh-tasting California walnuts throughout the year.

In-shell Walnuts

Available in bags and in bulk bins, typically in the produce section. Buy for holiday decorating, festive snacking, and for social after-meal cracking sessions. Most readily available during the fall and winter months, so if you like to have in-shell walnuts on hand throughout the year, be sure to stock up in the fall!

Shelled Walnuts

Available in bags and in bulk bins. Look for them in the produce section, snacking and baking aisles at your local supermarket. Sold as halves, halves and pieces, pieces and chopped, among other forms. Shelled walnuts are available in supermarkets and club stores year-round.

Cold Storage = Fresh Taste!

You can maintain the fresh taste of California walnuts by keeping them cold. Walnuts go rancid when exposed to warm temperatures for long periods of time. Heat causes the fat in walnuts to change structure, which creates off odors and flavors. Fresh walnuts smell mildly nutty and taste sweet. If your walnuts smell like paint thinner, you know they’re rancid. And if they’re rancid, you should throw them away!

Where to Store Walnuts

When you bring walnuts home from the store, the best place to store them is in your refrigerator or freezer, depending on when you’re going to use them. If you’re going to use the walnuts right away, place them in your refrigerator. If you’ll be storing them for a month or longer, store them in your freezer.

How to Store Walnuts

If you buy walnuts in sealed packaging, you can store the walnuts in their original packaging. Once you open the bag, transfer the walnuts to an airtight container to maintain freshness. If you buy bulk walnuts, either in-shell or shelled, place the walnuts in an airtight container for long-term cold storage. 

More Storage & Handling Tips

When storing walnuts in your refrigerator, store them away from foods with strong odors (e.g. fish, cabbage, onions). Walnuts can absorb the flavors of other foods.

One final tip

Wait to shell or chop walnuts until you’re ready to use them. The same applies for ground walnut meal; don’t grind walnuts until you’re ready to add the walnut meal to your recipe. This will help maintain great flavor.