Buying Flax Seeds: SelectionBoth brown and golden varieties of flax seeds are becoming easier to find, especially in health food stores. If you can't find them near you, try the links here: Where to Find Flax Seeds. The two varieties have similar nutrient composition. They are sold both in bulk and in packages.
Flax Seeds vs. Flax Seed Meal Whole flax seed stays fresh for up to a year if stored correctly. However, they will go rancid more quickly after being ground up into meal. For this reason, many people choose to buy whole flax seed and grind it into meal themselves (this takes seconds in a blender or coffee grinder). The meal can be purchased, but follow these guidelines:
- Purchase from a source where you’re sure there is rapid turnover.
- Ideally the meal should be refrigerated at the store.
- The bag should be opaque, as light will accelerate the meal going rancid.
- Vacuum-packed packaging is the best, because it prevents the meal from having contact with oxygen before opening.
If you question how long the flax meal has been on the shelves or how it has been stored, it is recommended that you purchase whole flax seed and grind it yourself. It’s also less expensive this way. Any time you taste flax meal that is at all bitter, throw it away. It should be mildly nutty tasting, and not at all harsh.
Flax Seed StorageWhole flax seed should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Many people choose to store it in the refrigerator or freezer to be on the safe side. Flax meal should be stored in the freezer and used up within a few weeks.
Tips for Using Flax Seed
- Drink plenty of water. There is so much soluble fiber in flax that it is important to drink plenty of water when eating flax products, otherwise constipation may result.
- Remember to start slowly if you aren’t used to a high-fiber diet.
- If you purchase the whole seeds, you need to grind them up to get the benefit.
- Flax is often used as an egg substitute in baked goods for people who can’t or choose not to eat eggs. This is because of the soluble fiber, which adds structure to the food.
- About 2/3 to 3/4 cup of flax seed yields 1 cup of flax meal. With my grinder, it’s 3/4 cup, and my recipes reflect this.
Flax Recipes and Serving Suggestions:
- Raw or toasted: Sprinkle over cottage cheese, ricotta, yogurt, breakfast cereal; put in shakes (thickens them somewhat)
- Cooked in a hot cereal: For example, try Hot Flax Peanut Butter Cereal or Hot Pumpkin Cereal
- Cooked into other foods: For example, meatloaf, meatballs, or casseroles.
- In baked goods: Add a few tablespoons to any recipe, or try the following, which rely on flax as a flour: