An edible dry fruit or seed covered with a hard shell that protects the kernel or meat inside. Generally, the shell is removed and discarded and only the kernel, known as the nut, inside is the item to be eaten. Nuts are available shelled or unshelled and the shelled nuts are available blanched or unblanched, whole or chopped, halved, minced, raw, oil roasted, dry-roasted, salted, unsalted, and coated with a flavoring. Nuts are also available ground as powders or butters. Some common varieties of foods referred to as nuts include: almonds, cashews, chestnuts, hazelnuts, hickory nuts, macadamias, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, soy nuts, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. Although peanuts and soy nuts are referred to as nuts, they are actually a legume. Similarly, Brazil nuts are actually seeds from a Amazon tree, while almonds and walnuts are actually stone fruits, similar to peaches and olives.
Nuts are high in protein and monounsaturated fat. Cholesterol free, nuts provide fiber, Vitamin E, calcium, and other nutritional benefits. When storing nuts, keep them refrigerated in an airtight container if they are to be stored for long periods of time. Refrigerated or frozen, nuts will last for up to 6 months before becoming less flavorful or rancid, due to their high fat content.