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Do Nuts Go Bad? Tips and Tricks for Proper Storage

do nuts go bad
Do Nuts Go Bad? Tips and Tricks for Proper Storage

Many people assume pantry staples like nuts have a long shelf life, but do nuts go bad? How long do they last? We’ll answer these questions and give you tips on how to store nuts properly. 

Believe it or not, despite being sold as a dry good, nuts do go bad. This is due to the fact that they’re very fatty (in a good way), and the oils they contain can eventually go rancid. They can also dry out, or become infested with insects or mold if not stored properly.

Expired or rancid nuts don’t taste great but eating them usually has no bad consequences. However, some people may experience vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea because the rancid oils are said to cause irritation to the stomach lining.

How to Tell if Nuts Have Gone Bad

how long do nuts last
Do nuts go bad? Yes, and there’s two ways to tell if they are still good. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Towfiqu barbhuiya )

If you have any doubts at all about whether your nuts have gone off, don’t use them. However, there are two ways you can figure out if they’ve gone rancid.

1. Use Your Nose

You can actually smell if nuts have gone bad. Instead of a pleasant nutty aroma, rancid nuts tend to smell like paint, nail polish, or even old plastic. If you get a whiff of anything that doesn’t smell deliciously nutty, chances are your nuts have gone bad.

2. Have a Taste

If you can’t tell by smell alone, and want to see if they’re still good, bite off a small piece. The flavor and taste will be unpleasantly sour or bitter if the nuts have gone bad. If that’s the case, spit it out and discard the rest of them.

How Long Do Nuts Last?

do nuts go bad
Some nuts have a longer shelf life than others. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Marta Branco)

As a general rule of thumb, you can eat nuts 6 months after the printed date if stored in the pantry, 1 year after the date if they’re stored in the fridge, and 2 years past their date if they’re stored in the freezer. Some types of nuts will go bad sooner than others. You can use the following chart as reference for some of the more popular types of nuts:

This chart shows how long different types of nuts will last.
This chart shows how long different types of nuts will last. (Photo: Utopia/ Karen Stankiewicz)

Keep Nuts from Going Bad: Storage Tips

do nuts go bad
All types of nuts, seeds, and grains should be stored in airtight containers in order to extend their shelf life! (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Maddi Bazzocco )

Once you’ve opened a package of nuts, it’s important to transfer the remaining contents into an airtight container. This will help you to extend the shelf life, even more so if you store that airtight container in the fridge of freezer! Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Nuts in their shells last longer than their unshelled counterparts.
  • Chopped and roasted nuts will go bad sooner than whole, raw ones.
  • Unsalted keep better than salted.
  • Skip the bulk bins – most of these nuts are exposed to heat, light, and oxygen which starts the oxidation process.
  • Have a look at the dates on the packaging, this will give you a good indication of how to store them.
  • Buy only what you need. Buying large quantities is only useful if you’re going to be using them.
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