Do Nuts Ever go Bad: How to Store Nuts
A healthy snack that is loved by fitness gurus, home bakers and kids alike, the humble nut is a must-have in every kitchen. Of course, not all nuts are created equal and some may be more prone to going out of date than others. How then, do you know whether or not your nuts have gone bad? Can nuts be frozen to help improve the overall longevity, or for use later down the line?
Below, we’ll be answering all these questions for your peace of mind. So, keep reading to find out how long nuts last, as well as how to store your nuts for the best overall lifespan and much more about your favorite seeds and fruit.
How Long Do Nuts Last?
A nuts shelf life can be altered, depending on what kind of nut you’ve bought, the environment it’s in and whether or not they still have their shell. In general, a quality nut that has been properly kept in a cool, dark space with little to no risk of cross contamination from other items and foods in the kitchen will likely keep for up to 6-9 months.
It should be noted, however, that many nut types will last for longer than this, with almonds lasting for up to a year. Meanwhile, pine nuts have the shortest use-by date, in that they are only suitable for eating up to 2 months after being bought.
A similar train of thought can be followed for storing your nuts in the fridge, where most nuts will keep for up to a year – providing they are stored in a sealed container. Thus, the environment, nut type and – the biggest factor – the sell-by date given on the nuts bought, will have a big effect on the overall longevity of your nuts.
Can Nuts Be Frozen?
A simple answer to this question is that, yes, most nuts can be frozen in order to thaw and eat at a later date. However, each nut has a different shelf life when frozen. For example, in the freezer, most nuts can last up to 2 years before they need to be thawed and eaten.
However, this would exclude pine nuts which can only last up to 5 or 6 months. Hazelnuts and Brazil nuts can only keep in the freezer for up to one year. Meanwhile, pistachios shouldn’t be frozen, as their shells are often in different states of opening and can be difficult to properly seal in an airtight container before freezing.
How to Store Fresh Nuts
When bought fresh, nuts should have a decent shelf-life and can therefore be stored at room temperature without much concern. Simply place your nuts in an airtight container, and be sure to place that container in a cool, dark space in the kitchen. Keeping your nuts away from direct sunlight will ensure the fat contents doesn’t break down and cause your nuts to turn rancid.
How to Store Roasted Nuts
Roasting is a great way of creating a unique, intense flavor within your nuts and improving upon what is already a delicious snack. However, given that roasted nuts have been shelled, and that their protective skins have been removed before cooking, it does mean that their shelf life is reduced significantly, after being roasted.
In other words, any nut that has been processed – roasted, sliced, chopped or similar – will have half the shelf life it had before being processed. Thus, pine nuts will only last one month as a maximum, while almonds may continue to stay fresh for up to 6 months after being processed.
In order to maximize the edible lifespan of your nuts, you can keep them in an airtight container, ensure that they stay well away from other foods of any types or even place them in the fridge or freezer, once they have been sealed in a tub or airtight bag.
If you do elect to freeze your roasted nuts, just be sure that they have been thawed thoroughly before eating or using in your recipes. You should also be sure to eat them within 24 hours and discard any that are left, after this time.
How to Tell If Nuts Are Bad
Like all food, nuts are likely to have bad repercussions if eaten, once spoiled – which we discuss in more detail, below. And, while nuts are one of the hardest ingredients to check whether they are rancid or not, there are still ways and methods to check their freshness.
Your nose is the most obvious choice, as well as being the most attuned to detecting hints of rotten food. Nuts that have gone off are likely to smell stale and are most commonly likened to paint with their unpleasant odor, once they have gone past their use-by date.
The higher the fat content of the nuts, the more likely they are to go bad – or rather, the shorter the edible lifespan of the nut itself. Thus, pine nuts, walnut and pecans are the most likely to have a shorter use-by date, while almonds and peanuts have a lower level of fat content, giving them the longest shelf life.
What Happens If You Eat Nuts That Have Gone Bad?
Generally speaking, there isn’t a huge level of risk associated with eating a few bad nuts – no matter what type they are – besides an unpleasant taste, which should be enough to put you off eating more. If, however, you have eaten more than a few, then there are a few negative repercussions to eating stale nuts.
The most obvious side effect to eating bad nuts is nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and cramps, all of which is caused by the stomach lining becoming irritated or inflamed. If the irritation of the stomach happens frequently enough, the effect can be very serious, even resulting in carcinogens being created.