Storing Grains, Nuts and Pantry Staples

pantry staples storage

Image courtesy of TheGiantVermin at

This blog is the record of my baking experiments. My journey has been to find vegan substitutions, to make recipes work at high altitudes, and, lately, to attempt the world of gluten-free. Along the way I have amassed a cupboard full of new baking ingredients to add to my arsenal of tried-and-true favorites. Sometimes I buy a bagful of something and only use a pinch, so I needed to discover the best way to store everything.

For most pantry staples, their enemy is light and air. Storage in airtight containers will help keep items fresh and lasting longer. Dried fruit, leaveners, spices, and whole grains stored this way are fine in the cupboard. An important note: DO NOT store spices on the counter near the stove as heat and light will destroy them quickly.

Another consideration is temperature. Nuts and seeds have oils in them that will go rancid so they like it very cool if not freezing. The Ideal storage for nuts and seeds is in tightly sealed containers in the refrigerator. I usually take nuts and transfer them to zipper bags before I put them in the fridge. I have also learned to move them to the freezer if I won’t be using them up within a month.

Grains can be as sensitive as nuts and seeds. The best approaches for storing them are covered in a blog from Bob’s Red Mill as listed here:

Whole Grains (wheat berries, brown rice, quinoa, millet, etc) used once a month: room temp
Whole Grains used less than once a month: freezer
Flour, Cereals, Cracked Grains used once a week: room temp
Flour, Cereals, Cracked Grains used less than once a month: fridge or freezer
Baking Mixes: room temp or fridge, do not freeze
Refined Grains, Flours and Cereals (white flour, white rice, etc): room temp
Items that should always be kept in the fridge or freezer: Almond Meal, Hazelnut Meal, Coconut Flour, Wheat Germ, Rice Bran, Flaxseed Meal, Hemp Seeds

For items stored at room temperature, I put them in glass jars if I have the space. When room in the pantry runs low, I transfer goods to zipper bags and then place all of those bags in a plastic bin and put it somewhere cooler, like in the basement. They are then protected not only from heat but also from bugs and rodents. Now, when I need an esoteric flour for a gluten-free baking attempt, I can bring the bin into the kitchen to browse my collection and know that the items are fresh and critter-free. No one wants critters in their baking, especially when it’s vegan.

The Great Cookie Freezing Experiment

milk splashDuring my month of baking cookies I saved a few from each batch to see how they would freeze. I had never tried this before because when I bake there aren’t any leftovers. But after a month and many dozens of cookies, I was willing to offer some up to freezer science.

For this experiment, I started with Tips for Freezing Baked Cookies from
“All cookies should be frozen individually after they’ve cooled completely, meaning they should be placed on a baking sheet, not touching, until frozen solid (they can be frozen like this in layers separated by parchment, wax, or freezer paper).”
So, I separated six cooled cookies after each baking session and froze them individually. Then I placed them in zip plastic bags in layers separated by waxed paper. I squeezed out the air and laid them flat in the freezer to wait.

When time had passed, between five days and two weeks depending on the cookie, I removed the cookie bag from the confines of the freezer. I thawed a few treats out on a plate and ate them as is. I also tried this advice, again from “You can gently reheat frozen or thawed cookies to mimic that fresh-baked taste and texture: place them in a 275F oven and check on them after 10 to 15 minutes.”
I definitely preferred the baked cookies. They were warm, fresh out of the oven, and reminded me of freshly baked cookies. The thawed-on-the-counter cookies seemed a bit more dry, and didn’t have the enticing fragrance of warm cookies. But neither had the slightly chewy inside that I like.

What did I learn from all this? If you don’t have time to bake, then cookies from the freezer are better than boxed. But, baking cookies from scratch is definitely worth the time because the texture is perfect and the house smells AMAZING!