Cooking With Flax Seeds: The Dos And Don’ts

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Flax seed has drawn a lot of attention in recent years, being dubbed a superfood by many nutrition experts. It is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and has various other nutrients that can boost health. If you are unfamiliar with this ancient food, there are a few rules to using flax seeds properly. This is because they can be very sensitive to their environment and can spoil easily. Follow these tips to enhance your enjoyment of them and their nutritional value.

Do store flax seed properly.

Flax seeds are available in whole form or ground, which is often sold as flax meal. These two forms each have different benefits and drawbacks. Flax meal is easier to use as you will not have to grind it yourself. The big drawback here is that it has a very short shelf life and can quickly go rancid if stored in an unrefrigerated space. Ground flax seed can go bad within a week when it is stored at room temperature.

On the other hand, whole flax seed can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Both will last longer if stored in the refrigerator, but there is still a significant difference between their respective shelf lives. Ground flax seed lasts about four months in the refrigerator; whole seeds can last for up to two years. As a result, your best option is to buy whole flax seeds and grind them yourself with a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.

Do buy only as much flax seed as you will need.

Given the short shelf life, there is a high likelihood of it going bad before you use what is left over when you buy too much.

Do pay attention to packaging.

Light and exposure to moisture can affect the shelf life of flax seeds. To ensure that you are getting the freshest possible product, you should look for flax seeds that have been packaged in opaque containers and which are also vacuum-sealed.

Do learn how to tell when flax seed goes bad.

The short shelf life of flax seed means that there is an increased risk when buying the product that you may not face when buying something like chia seeds. The first way to tell that flax seeds are bad is by checking the package’s best by date. While some products may still be usable even when close to or past their expiration date, you would be wise to avoid old flax seed. Another good way to identify bad flax seeds is to smell them. Fresh flax seeds have an aroma that can best be described as nutty and mild. Rancid flax seeds smell fishy and sour.

Don’t eat whole flax seeds.

While eating them whole will not harm you, they will also not provide as much benefit as ground flax seeds. Whole flax seeds will simply pass through your digestive system without providing any nutritional benefit since your body will not break them down. Grinding the flax seeds allows your body to access the nutrients they contain.

Don’t add flax seeds to recipes for baked goods without additional water.

One of the characteristics of the flax seed is its absorbency. Because of this, it can change the texture of some doughs. Some formulas recommend adding 75 percent of the flax seed’s volume in extra water. Meaning that you would add 3/4 cups of water for every cup of flax seed that you add to a recipe.