Whatever happened to canning nut meats?


In light of recent research looking at survival of Salmonella bacteria in low moisture foods, our concern has arisen about canning processes for nuts. Even after drying, the nuts may be exposed to moisture during canning processes. Although it is not likely that your particular batch of nuts is contaminated with Salmonella, the risk is present and exposure to moisture could be an issue.

Therefore Cooperative Extension, University of Georgia and the National Center for Home Food Preservation no longer offer a procedure for canning nut meats, with the single exception of our current procedure for green peanuts. USDA canning recommendations are unaffected, as they have no recommendations for canning nuts of any kind.

Alternatively, you can store nuts in sterilized canning jars without putting them through a canning process. To store nuts this way, it’s important that you heat and dry them first. Shell the nuts and spread them in a single layer on baking pans. Then place them in a 250°F oven until they are dry, but not brown or scorched, stirring occasionally. Allow them to cool at room temperature and simply put them in sterilized canning jars, covering with lids and ring bands.

Sterilizing jars provides extra protection against mold spores that could be on the jars. To sterilize jars, submerge them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove them from the water and sit them with open end down to allow them completely dry before filling with nuts.

Be aware that with any nuts, rancidity will eventually develop, making the product unappealing though not unsafe. Rancidity occurs in foods when fats or oils are exposed to oxygen over time, causing oxidation which leads to that yucky off-flavor. You might want to buy oxygen absorber packets to put in the jars. They will get rid of some of the oxygen, increasing their shelf-life. These packets are widely used in the food industry in products like bacon bits, jerky, etc.  Multiple sources can be found on the Internet.