How to Store Nuts So They Don't Go Rancid (2024)

Thanks to the bulk dry goods selection at my corner store, my kitchen is a mess of unlabeled, undated, twist-tied bags of various nuts and legumes. I probably bought each one for a good reason once upon a time—a som tum recipe that called for fried peanuts, or a chocolate chip cookie recipe that required just a half cup of pecans—but now they’ve entered a sad, stale limbo of being completely unusable.

If you’ve ever tried to snack on a walnut or almond straight from the pantry, only to find that its texture has gotten soft and mealy (or worse—its oils have turned rancid and begun to taste like paint thinner), it may be time for you, like me, to rethink how you’re storing these ingredients. I talked to an array of pastry chefs, authors, and importers about how to keep those nuts crunchy and fresh for better pecan pies, superior shortbread cookies, and snack mixes.

Can nuts really go bad?

“The fresher the nut, the better the flavor,” says Ahmad Qais Jaweed, the general manager of Ziba Foods, which sells nuts, dried fruit, and other snacks grown in Afghanistan. “Texture-wise they lose their crunch and become softer. Color-wise they might darken a little bit,” he says, describing the flavor as “floury and bland.”

Nuts with higher fat content, like walnuts and pecans can also go rancid after a few months if stored at too warm a temperature. If you notice that your nuts have taken on a noticeably bitter, sour flavor, they may have entered this unfortunate phase.

Even in a baked good, when the nuts are amped up with plenty of sugar and fat, freshness is key. For Maya-Camille Broussard, the author of Justice of the Pies and founder of the Chicago bakery of the same name, fresh pecans are an essential ingredient for a good pie. “If the nuts are stale, you will instantly taste a bit of rancid bitterness in the pie,” she says. “And that’s not cute.”

Nuts make a great snack—but not if they’re rancid.

Photo by Travis Rainey, Food Styling by Joseph De Leo

Buy fresh, whole, raw, and local

Broussard suggests buying locally, straight from the farm if at all possible. Since nuts are harvested in the fall, buying them in the middle of the summer might mean that you’re getting last year’s crop, which won’t last as long in your pantry. And if you’re buying from the grocery store, this is one of the cases when you really want to pay attention to that expiration date.

How to Store Nuts So They Don't Go Rancid (2024)

FAQs

How to Store Nuts So They Don't Go Rancid? ›

The Best Way to Store Nuts

How to keep nuts from going rancid? ›

The good enough method: Put nuts in a glass container, ideally one with as little empty space as possible. Store sealed nuts in the freezer. “Keeping nuts at freezer temperatures dramatically slows down the rate that oxidation occurs,” says McNeil.

How to store nuts for long term storage? ›

Spoilage is accelerated even more in the presence of light, oxygen, and heat. Storing nuts (and seeds) in the fridge or freezer limits their exposure to all three of these, and will result in your nuts tasting less bitter and more flavorful for a longer period of time.

How do you increase the shelf life of nuts? ›

Tips For Keeping Nuts Fresh

The main idea is to keep them cool and dry. Dry and cool conditions will prevent the nuts from becoming rancid, which is when fatty acids in the nuts go bad if stored for too long or in poor conditions, such as high humidity, exposure to bright light, or sunlight.

What causes nuts to go rancid? ›

While nuts are shelf-stable, they contain those all-important unsaturated fats, which cause them to spoil if they aren't stored properly. Exposure to heat, light, oxygen and humidity can all make your nuts go rancid before you've gone through half the bag.

What is the best container to store nuts in? ›

Nuts should be stored in their own airtight containers, such as glass, ceramic, or sturdy plastic containers. Even freezer bags are a good option. In selecting the container it's important to assess them for their airtightness.

How long does it take for nuts to go rancid? ›

Raw nuts can be stored in an airtight container in a cool dark place for six to 12 months. The fridge or freezer is ideal. Nuts can be refrigerated for up to four months and frozen for up to six months. Store ground almonds in an airtight container in a cool dark place for a couple of weeks.

How long will nuts last if vacuum sealed? ›

How Long Does Vacuum Sealed Food Last at Room Temperature?
FoodNormal ShelfVacuum Shelf
Almonds, Peanuts6-12 months2 years
Coffee Beans3-5 months6-9 months
Ground Coffee1-2 weeks5 months
Grains1 year8 years
9 more rows

Can you vacuum seal nuts for long term storage? ›

Proper storage in the freezer is crucial. Nuts readily absorb odors, so ensure they're stored in airtight, odor-proof packages such as vacuum sealer bags, mason jars, or Mylar bags.

What nut has the longest shelf life? ›

How Long Do Different Nuts Last?
PantryFreezer
Almondsnine monthstwo years
Brazil nutsnine monthsone year
Cashewsnine monthstwo years
Hazelnutssix monthsone year
5 more rows
Aug 30, 2021

Which nuts go rancid the quickest? ›

"Nuts have a wide range of fat contents," says LaMarita. Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios are lower in fat, so they'll generally last longer than nuts higher in fat, like macadamia nuts, pine nuts, cashews, and Brazil nuts, all of which will go rancid quicker, says LaMarita.

Does refrigerating nuts make them last longer? ›

Nuts. Nuts' fragile unsaturated fats can go rancid quickly. While that may not hurt your health, it can definitely be bad news for flavor. Keep nuts tasting fresh by stowing them in a sealed plastic or glass container in the refrigerator for four to six months.

Do nuts keep better in the freezer? ›

But the freezer is really where it's at when it comes to storing nuts, as they can easily last up to a year in there—with some experts saying up to two years! Plus, you won't even notice that your nuts have been frozen.

Can you eat nuts 2 years out of date? ›

A: Nuts can't expire; however, they can change in taste or go rancid. Nuts contain much-unsaturated fat, an oil that makes nuts likely to go rancid. Nuts spoil faster when exposed to light, air, or heat.

Can eating rancid nuts hurt you? ›

Consuming rancid or stale nuts like almonds, walnuts or cashews in small amounts may not immediately make you sick, but it's generally not advisable as it may hamper digestion or have other harmful effects on your body in the long term.

Is it better to store nuts in the fridge or freezer? ›

That makes them a bit high-maintenance, sure, but luckily there's a spot in your kitchen that's just perfect for them. That's right, it's the freezer and Bryan Roof, Editorial Director at Cook's Country agrees. He says that the freezer is the best place to store nuts because it's dark and cold in there.

Should you refrigerate nuts to keep them fresh? ›

Nuts' fragile unsaturated fats can go rancid quickly. While that may not hurt your health, it can definitely be bad news for flavor. Keep nuts tasting fresh by stowing them in a sealed plastic or glass container in the refrigerator for four to six months.

Should you freeze or refrigerate nuts? ›

If stored in the refrigerator, however, these healthy fat sources can last up to six months. But the freezer is really where it's at when it comes to storing nuts, as they can easily last up to a year in there—with some experts saying up to two years!

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Errol Quitzon

Last Updated:

Views: 6014

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (79 voted)

Reviews: 94% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Errol Quitzon

Birthday: 1993-04-02

Address: 70604 Haley Lane, Port Weldonside, TN 99233-0942

Phone: +9665282866296

Job: Product Retail Agent

Hobby: Computer programming, Horseback riding, Hooping, Dance, Ice skating, Backpacking, Rafting

Introduction: My name is Errol Quitzon, I am a fair, cute, fancy, clean, attractive, sparkling, kind person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.