Beans, Nuts & Vegetarian Proteins

beans, canned or cooked

REFRIGERATE IT: Yes, after opened or cooked

AT FRESHEST: Can in pantry, several years; cooked beans, refrigerator, 3 to 5 days; freezer, up to 3 months

OPTIMAL STORAGE: Store cooked beans in their cooking liquid or water in an airtight container.

FREEZING: Freeze in sealed airtight containers in their cooking liquid or water.

USE IT UP/REVIVAL: Made too many beans? Cooked beans can also be used in all sorts of recipes, such as cookies and cakes.

Arrow pointing up.

beans, dry


AT FRESHEST: Can last indefinitely, but after 1 year may need slightly longer cooking times

OPTIMAL STORAGE: Store in airtight containers in a cool, dark, dry place. Do not wash until just before use.

FREEZING: Not recommended.

USE IT UP/REVIVAL: If the lengthy preparation time is the reason that bag of beans is hanging around in your pantry, you might like to know that pressure cooking vastly decreases the time to cook beans. Beans soaked for as little as 1 hour will cook in 3 to 14 minutes, depending on their variety, size, and age, using a pressure cooker.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, beans can be partially cooked in the microwave to decrease conventional cooking time.

Be careful to fully cook red kidney beans, as they can be toxic when undercooked, and do not cook them in a slow cooker unless boiled for at least 10 minutes beforehand.

Do not add salt, lemon juice, vinegar, tomatoes, chili sauce, ketchup, molasses, or wine until after the beans are fully cooked, as they can prevent beans from becoming tender.

Brown foam in a pot of cooking beans is protein from the beans, not dirt. If you don’t like this, simply skim it off or add a bit of butter or oil to the water to prevent foaming.

Arrow pointing up.



AT FRESHEST: Unopened jar in pantry, 2 years; unopened bag in pantry, 1 to 2 months; refrigerator, 4 to 6 months; freezer, 9 to 12 months. Peanuts in the shell keep longer.

OPTIMAL STORAGE: Store in a cool, dry, dark place in an airtight container. If using only occasionally, it’s best to refrigerate or freeze them.

FREEZING: Shell and seal in zip-top freezer bags, or boil whole peanuts in a brine solution, drain, and seal in freezer bags.

USE IT UP/REVIVAL: Peanut soup is a popular African dish.

Peanut shells can be used to make finger puppets or ornaments or to replace Styrofoam packing peanuts. However, many folks have allergies to peanuts, so be careful with how you use the shells.

Arrow pointing up.


REFRIGERATE IT: Yes, ideally

AT FRESHEST: Sunflower seeds—Raw, at least 1 year at room temperature; roasted, 8 months in refrigerator, 4 months at room temperature

Flaxseeds— Whole, at least 1 year at room temperature; ground, at least 90 days in refrigerator

Pumpkin seeds— Raw, 4 to 6 months in refrigerator

OPTIMAL STORAGE: Make sure the seeds are dry before storing. Store in airtight containers in the refrigerator or at least in a cool, dark, dry place. If using only occasionally, store in the freezer (not necessary for sunflower seeds).

FREEZING: Pack into zip-top freezer bags or airtight containers.

USE IT UP/REVIVAL: If seeds are raw, they can likely be sprouted by soaking in water overnight and then leaving in aerated containers and rinsing once a day.

If moths have gotten into a container of seeds, discard all the seeds and wash the container well before using again.

Arrow pointing up.



AT FRESHEST: Unopened, 10 days; opened, 3 to 4 days

OPTIMAL STORAGE: Store in original packaging until opened, an airtight container after opening.

FREEZING: Store in original packaging.

USE IT UP/REVIVAL: The black spots on tempeh and the white material between the beans are both molds that are part of the fermentation process and entirely edible (and necessary for making the tempeh).

Do not eat if slimy.

Arrow pointing up.



AT FRESHEST: 10 days

OPTIMAL STORAGE: Refrigerate in original package until opened. Once opened, keep submerged in water in an airtight container in the refrigerator and change the water daily.

FREEZING: Freezing tofu causes moisture to drain from it and changes its consistency, making it more firm and dense. This is helpful for marinating but may not be desired for some uses. If marinating, rinse, drain, and place in a sealed zip-top freezer bag. Thaw in the refrigerator and drain, squeezing out excess moisture.

USE IT UP/REVIVAL: The consistency of frozen tofu once it’s thawed makes it a great substitute for ground beef, perfect for soups, chilies, and sauces.

Make a tofu “ricotta” as a nondairy substitute for pizzas and lasagnas.

Arrow pointing up.

tree nuts


AT FRESHEST: Without shell—Almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios in refrigerator, 1 to 2 years; freezer, 2 years or more

With shell— Almonds, walnuts, pecans (storing pistachios in the shell is not recommended), 1½ to 2 years

Pine nuts— refrigerated, 3 months; freezer, 9 months

OPTIMAL STORAGE: Wait to shell or chop until ready to use. Store shelled nuts, even if roasted, in an opaque, airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. If you must keep them in the pantry, store in a cool, dark place in an airtight container and use within a few months. Store pine nuts tightly wrapped in plastic wrap in an airtight container.

FREEZING: Pack into tinted zip-top freezer bags and freeze.

USE IT UP/REVIVAL: Translucency or darkening can be a sign that nuts are becoming rancid. Be sure to taste before using.

Arrow pointing up.