I love nuts. I love them alone, in salads, encrusted on foods, blended with other ingredients as in pestos and just about anyway you can think of. The only nut I'm not fond of on their own are walnuts. I think they taste dry.
Over the past few years though I've encountered some problems with nuts. I thought I had blogged about it before but apparently not. After reading a friends blog the other day it prompted me to share my findings with you.
Several years ago I purchased raw pecans from The Wine and Cheese Place in St Louis. A favorite place of mine to get wine, cheese and fresh nuts. I've never had an issue with anything there as I'm sure you'll agree if you've ever shopped there. However, what happened was out of their control although a disclosure statement would have been helpful.
I purchased the pecans around the holidays to make a large batch of my candied pecans to give as gifts. I made several batches but had some left over that I kept in my cupboard for a week or two.
I happen to be out running errands and my husband called to say that the cabinet containing the pecans was covered with maggots and bugs and they were coming from the bag of pecans. I was on my way home and when I arrived I couldn't believe my eyes.
When I spoke to the gal at The Wine & Cheese Place she told me that all raw nuts harbor insect eggs. If left raw after a certain period of time the eggs will hatch. If you eat the nuts prior to the eggs hatching, the acid in your stomach will kill them, so you never see these bugs. I nearly vomited after hearing that. How disgusting! I immediately went online to verify and found several sites that mentioned insect eggs on nuts. This is one of them.
I could have avoided this calamity had I put the nuts in the freezer or cooked all of them. Too bad I didn't find this out sooner. A warning or instructions with the nuts would have been helpful!
Has this ever happened to you?
Another incident occurred 4 weeks ago while vacationing in the mountains of Colorado. I purchased almonds on sale at the City Market grocery store that came from a local producer.
Upon arriving home, I ate a handful of almonds and one of them tasted rancid so I tossed the bag out. Later that afternoon and for the next 3 days I was so sick I couldn't even stand up.
After doing research I found this to be a common occurrence among almonds. The clue should have been that they were on special and packaged in zip lock baggies. Blue Diamond shares important information about maximizing the shelf life of almonds that I found useful the next time I decide to purchase them.
The majority of nuts are said to be heart healthy which besides loving them makes them more attractive. Some offer greater benefits than others but overall they're said to help lower your LDL, low-density lipoprotein or "bad," cholesterol level in your blood, they're rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, contain fiber and Vitamin E along with a host of other benefits. Yet, caution must still be taken.
(photo from Frieda's)
My most recent revelation was when Dianne blogged about pine nuts, a nut I use often especially when making pesto. She came down with "pine mouth". I've never heard of or experienced this however, it appears the key factor here as well as other nuts, is quality. Rather than purchasing on sale or inexpensive nuts it's best to splurge, for safety and quality. If it's too good to be true, then it probably is!
Buyer beware! Next time you decide to purchase some nuts it's best to do a bit of research.
Have you encountered a negative experience after purchasing nuts? If so, please share it with us, so that we can all become better consumers!