Shelled vs. unshelled walnuts: Which one should you choose?

Looking for a snack that combines flavour and nutritional value? Look no further. According to scientists, walnuts are the healthiest nuts, containing twice as many antioxidants as any other type of nut (and they’re delicious, too!).

Walnuts are also an amazing, nutrient-rich source of protein and fibre, packed with heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as omega-3 fatty acids, and bone-preserving copper.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids have been shown to decrease LDL (harmful) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which then reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, strokes, and heart attacks.

Copper, on the other hand, has been linked to bone and joint health: copper deficiency is associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis and joint dysfunction.

But while walnuts are indisputably good for you, not all walnuts reach your supermarket containing optimal levels of nutrients and taste. The difference? Shells.

It may seem more convenient to buy walnut kernels, but it’s their shells that protect the fatty acids from temperature changes, air, and light: all the factors responsible for walnuts going rancid and losing the nutritional value that makes them such a superfood. 

Walnut kernels, or shelled walnuts, can go bad in three months, whereas whole unshelled walnuts have a shelf life of up to a year when properly stored, and will likely still contain high levels of nutrients.

How to recognise rancid walnuts

Even walnuts in their shell can eventually go bad - if you’re unsure if they’re still fresh, walnuts have some tell-tale signs that you should look out for.

Sound: Step one, give the walnut shell a shake. If you hear rattling, that means the kernel has shrivelled up and gone bad. A fresh walnut kernel fills up the entire shell and is firmly secured.

Smell: Opening a box of good nuts would treat you to a pleasant, nutty aroma. Bad nuts, however, have an odour reminiscent of paint or nail polish, or even old plastic containers. If you catch a whiff of any of those smells, it’s definitely gone rancid!

Taste: If your nose can’t detect rancidity, try a small taste test instead by eating just a tiny piece of nut. If it tastes sour or bitter, spit it out immediately and throw it away. 

One bad nut doesn’t mean the whole batch is ruined, however. Taste a small handfuls’ worth of nuts before determining if the entire batch should be thrown out.

How to store unshelled walnuts

Shells do a great job at protection, but careful storage is needed to maximise the lifespan of your walnuts. Malaysia being a relatively warm, humid country, it’s not highly recommended that you store them in a cupboard - and leaving them out in the open promotes oxidisation (which leads to rancidity).

What we do recommend is that you immediately place your walnuts in an airtight container, and store them in the fridge for maximum lifespan.

How to enjoy walnuts in a shell

Just remove your desired serving from the fridge, whip out your trusty nutcracker, and enjoy! You can enjoy them chopped up on desserts or salads, roast them with some salt for a burst of flavour, or enjoy the fresh, unadulterated taste of raw walnuts just as they are.


Hang on to those walnut shells

Don't throw those shells away! Ground walnut shells can be used as a eco- and surface-friendly ingredient for homemade scouring and polishing pastes. Gentle and less abrasive than many commercial solutions, they work great on metal, glass, and even wood surfaces. They're so effective at polishing without scratching, jewelers even use them in tumblers to give gems that perfect, sparkling shine!

That same gentle polishing action can also work on your skin: ground walnut shells, yoghurt, and lemon juice make an excellent face and body scrub that exfoliates your skin, ridding it of dead skin, oil, and dirt.

Lastly, walnut shells are a great alternative to conventional pet bed stuffing! Unlike cotton or polyester, shells don't absorb moisture, which lessens the chances of mould or bacterial growth.

Ready to begin your unshelled walnut journey? Shop our fresh French Fernor unshelled walnuts here!

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