Nuts are one of the most versatile foods on the planet. They are healthy and come with lots of essential nutrients. You can eat them raw or roasted and they will still taste great. No wonder, they are a perfect companion for all types of dishes.
Nothing lasts forever. Not even nuts. They certainly have longer shelf life than most other foods, thanks to the natural antioxidants that prevent the oils in fats from oxidizing. But that’s not enough to stop the nuts from going bad if you don’t store them properly.
The expiry dates on the package of store-bought nuts give you a general idea of how long nuts last. But you might not always have that reference to determine the quality and edibility of the nuts. In that case, a few tips on storing them properly might come in handy.
Let’s start with some science behind nuts going bad.
Why Do Nuts Go Bad?
Nuts are a good source of unsaturated fats. But the very thing that makes nuts a healthy choice also makes them go bad. When those fats are exposed to conditions like heat, moisture, air, or bacteria, they become rancid.
That means, the fats go through oxidation that causes molecular changes in the fatty acids and oils. The higher the fat content in the nuts, the sooner they expire.t
How To Recognize Bad Nuts?
You can recognize the bad nuts from the way they look, smell, and taste. If you have them in a container, look out for the bugs. If they are in-shell, open them up and inspect thoroughly for any mold or fuzz.
The most reliable method to tell if the nuts have gone bad is by smelling them. Normally, the nuts should give off a pleasant smell. But if the nuts smell like nail polish or paint, they are rancid.
If you are still not sure, try tasting a little piece. The unpleasant taste will instantly make you spit it out. The best thing to do with bad nuts is to discard them.
How Long Do Raw Nuts Last?
So, here’s the million-dollar question. There is no universal answer to this because it depends on several factors like the type of nuts, fat content in them, processing, packaging, harvesting methods, and most importantly, how you store them.
We did a little on a few types of store-bought nuts to see how long they would last past their expiry or “best before” dates. The result will surprise you.
Even after the expiry date, most shelled nuts lasted for about six months at room temperature. In-shell nuts went up to nine months. If you freeze them, you can add a few more months to their shelf-life.
|Types of Nuts||Stored in Pantry||Stored in Fridge|
|Almonds||4 months||12 months|
|Brazil Nuts||9 months||12 months|
|Cashews||6 months||12 months|
|Hazelnuts (shelled)||4 months||12 months|
|Hazelnuts (in-shell)||6 months||12 months|
|Peanuts (shelled)||4 months||12 months|
|Peanuts (in-shell)||6 months||12 months|
|Pecans (shelled)||4 months||18-24 months|
|Pecans (in-shell)||3 months||10-12 months|
|Macadamia Nuts||6 months||12 months|
|Walnuts (shelled)||3 months||6 months|
|Walnuts (in-shell)||6 months||12 months|
|Pistachios (shelled)||5 months||12 months|
|Pistachios (in-shell)||6 months||12 months|
|Pine Nuts||2-3 months||6 months|
How To Store Nuts To Make Them Last Longer?
The unsaturated fats in nuts are highly sensitive to the oxidation process that makes them go rancid. Longer exposure to conditions like heat, air, and moisture further accelerate the chemical reaction to spoil the nuts. It’s worth considering the following tips on storing nuts. Thank us later.
Like with any other food product, the rule of thumb to make the nuts last longer is to store them in an airtight container and keep them in a cool and dark area. Keeping the nuts in the refrigerator or freezer prevents them from exposure to unfavorable conditions.
As mentioned in the table above, storing the nuts in the refrigerator can make them last for up to a year or more. To maintain the original taste and flavor of the nuts, keep them away from high-odor foods like onions.
If you simply want to store in the pantry at room temperature, make sure that the storage area is free from moisture and direct sunlight. It’s not necessary to store the nuts in the refrigerator if you plan to consume them within three months or so.
Follow the FIFO (First In, First Out) method when using the stored nuts. For your convenience, we suggest you properly label the containers so that you don’t mix the new batch with the old ones.
If possible, always buy in-shell nuts because they last longer than shelled nuts in normal conditions. Once they are off their shells, they lose their natural protection.
Don’t open the refrigerated containers immediately. Let the nuts warm back to room temperature so that they won’t absorb any moisture.
Walnuts, peanuts, and pecans are more susceptible to spoilage due to oxidation. Cashews and almonds last longer than other nuts. Chestnuts have the least shelf-life and require to be frozen if you want to save them for later.
Unless the oils have gone rancid, you can bring back their flavor to some extent by toasting them in medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.
Lastly, always go for raw and whole nuts and seeds. Once you process (chop, salt, or roast) them, their oils are compromised to external conditions.
Ideally, you should have the nuts when they are fresh and raw. But that’s not always possible. Even with home-grown nuts, you need to store them. If you know how long each nut lasts in different storage conditions, you can manage the stock accordingly to prevent any wastage.
We suggest you buy nuts in moderate quantities so that you can consume them before the date on the package. You can still eat them beyond their best date, but they won’t be of the best quality. Nuts are a healthy choice, but they are not so healthy if you don’t store them well.
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