Nuts Really Shouldn’t Be Stored in Your Pantry—Here’s Why (2024)

When most of us have a hankering for nuts, we tend to look no further than the pantry. It’s totally normal for nuts to be stored in the dark corners of our cupboards, with many taking residence there for what can turn into many months (especially if you shop in bulk). But did you know the pantry is actually not the best place to house nuts and seeds?

Instead, nuts and seeds should ideally be kept in the freezer—or at least the fridge. Let's take a look at why that is, and see just what can happen to nuts and seeds that have spent a little too long at room temperature.

Aside from the protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals they contain, one of the primary reasons health buffs love nuts (like pecans!) and seeds is that they are loaded with healthy, unsaturated fats. These fats are known to help reduce inflammation throughout the body, lower cholesterol levels, and keep our cells, skin, hair, and nails strong and vibrant.

But these healthy fats are also to blame for the relatively short shelf life of nuts and seeds. All fats are made from carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms bonded together. The difference between unsaturated and saturated fats is how “saturated” the fat molecule’s carbon atoms are with hydrogen atoms. So, the carbon atoms on a saturated fat molecule will be fully bonded with hydrogen atoms, whereas an unsaturated fat molecule won’t be.

This results in unsaturated fats being less stable molecules, and more prone to oxidation, which leads to rancidity. That's the case with nuts and seeds, which are loaded with them. Interestingly, this is why foods made with those dreaded trans fats are so shelf stable. Trans fats are manmade, using the process of hydrogenation—the addition of hydrogen atoms to an unsaturated fat—which yields a product that can last at room temperature on grocery store shelves for quite a long time.

But beyond the unsaturated fat found in nuts and seeds, these healthy snacks are also prone to growing mold and yeast. Much of the mold that can grow on nuts and seeds isn’t life-threatening. However, there have been batches that have growing harmful molds like aflatoxin, which has caused food recalls of peanut products over the years. This is why you’ll often find only a small handful of nut options allowed on low-mold and low-yeast eating regimes like the candida diet.

Thankfully, there are lots of ways you can avoid rancid, moldy nuts—and that starts with smart storage. At room temperature, nuts and seeds can start to go bad after anywhere between one and three months, though some brands will advertise longer shelf lives than that. 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! Plus, you won’t even notice that your nuts have been frozen. They can be snacked on or added to recipes right out of the freezer, without any significant change in texture.

The less processing, the longer the shelf life when it comes to nuts and seeds. So, in-shell nuts will last the longest, whereas finely chopped and roasted options will have the shortest shelf life. (This is why many people to store their nut butters in the fridge.)

Also, while it might be a sound environmental decision, it’s best to avoid bulk bins when maintaining freshness is your top priority—it’s impossible to tell how long those nuts have been sitting out at room temperature. The best way to go is to purchase nuts in an airtight container.

It’s also a good idea to store nuts and seeds in low-light environments and air-tight containers, though light won’t be an issue at all if they’re tucked into the freezer.

Nuts are the ultimate snack, offering protein, fiber, and healthy fat to leave you feeling satisfied and energized. However, because of all the healthy fats they contain, these crunchy favorites are more at risk for spoilage than other snack options. By storing nuts in the freezer, you can get the most shelf life out of them, keeping them fresh and mold-free for an entire 365!

How to Roast Nuts

Nuts Really Shouldn’t Be Stored in Your Pantry—Here’s Why (2024)


Nuts Really Shouldn’t Be Stored in Your Pantry—Here’s Why? ›

Nuts are a high-fat food with a majority of that fat being unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are more delicate than saturated fats. That fragility makes them more susceptible to rancidity when exposed to air, light, moisture or heat. And rancid nuts are a quick way to ruin your recipe (and your appetite).

Which nuts are prone to mold? ›

All nuts (except for coconuts) are suspect for mold: Brazil nuts, pistachios, pine nuts, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, and cashews are some of the worst offenders, even though they're some of the healthiest fats for weight loss.

Where is the best place to store nuts? ›

So to preserve them, it's best to store nuts in the refrigerator, says Richard LaMarita, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. The coolness of the refrigerator will keep unsaturated fats from breaking down, ultimately slowing down spoilage.

Should nuts be stored in the fridge or pantry? ›

Tips to Safely Store Nuts. Contrary to popular belief, nuts should be stored in the fridge or freezer as opposed to a room temperature pantry. Why? Because nuts contain a high amount of unsaturated fat, a delicate type of oil, which makes them highly prone to going rancid.

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.

What nuts are mold free? ›

There are also lots of organic nuts and seeds that are safe to eat on the low-mold diet, including almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. Healthy fats are delicious and a must on the low-mold diet to promote healing.

Which nuts have the most pesticides? ›

More pesticides are used on almonds than any other crop in the state of California. One of the most widely used pesticides is glyphosate (Roundup). Roundup is toxic to bees, which are essential for pollinating almond trees.

Do nuts go bad if not refrigerated? ›

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. No fuss; cool, dark, and air-sealed are the three trifectas to storing nuts properly.

What nuts are good for long term storage? ›

Top Choices for Long-Term Storage:
  • Almonds in the shell.
  • Chestnuts.
  • Pistachios.
  • Walnuts unshelled (up to 12 months)
  • Pecans unshelled.
Feb 23, 2024

How do you store nuts so they don't go rancid? ›

“When possible, always store your nuts in the freezer,” she says. Jaweed agrees with this sentiment: “The ideal way to store nuts is in your freezer, right from the moment you receive them—up to a year or more.”

Can nuts be stored in ziplock bags? ›

Nuts are pricey these days, so you need to make sure you're storing them correctly for lasting freshness. Glass, plastic containers and our heavy, reclosable ziplock bags are good for storage. Metallic containers, light, moisture and heat will all conspire to spoil nuts more quickly.

Is it better to store nuts in glass or plastic? ›

When choosing a container, use one that is airtight. You can use Tupperware, plastic baggies, freezer bags, or even mason jars. Glass and plastic containers are preferred over plastic bags. Since plastic bags are permeable, it is easy for odors to seep into the bag.

How can you tell if nuts are rancid? ›

The most obvious indicator is their smell. Nuts smell sour and rancid and aren't quite pleasant. In terms of texture, stale nuts tend to feel softer and lose their trademark crunch when stale. Lastly, rancid nuts taste just like how they smell – sour and bitter.

What is the best thing to store nuts in? ›

General Rules for Storing Nuts & Seeds:

Use air-tight containers. Glass containers prevent chemicals leaking into your food. Whole nuts keep better than chopped, sliced or ground nuts. Shelled nuts keep longer than nuts in the shell.

How long do nuts last in Tupperware? ›

Another option is to use containers with airtight seals, such as glass jars or plastic ones, to ensure the nuts maintain the proper moisture level. If you keep nuts at room temperature, ensure they are away from direct heat; this will maintain their freshness for up to 3 months, considered short-term storage.

Are mason jars good for storing nuts? ›

One of my favorite uses for Mason jars is storing dry goods. Anything from nuts to grains to flours to spices — sometimes the boxes that they're packed in just don't last, so I'll transfer them to a sturdy Mason jar. Not only do I love the look of it, but I know that whatever is in there will stay protected and fresh.

Which nuts are high in aflatoxin? ›

The foods and crops most likely to be contaminated with aflatoxin include:
  • peanuts.
  • corn.
  • milk and cheese (rarely, meat can also become contaminated due to the spreading in aflatoxin in livestock feed)
  • nuts (especially almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts)
  • grains, including quinoa.
  • soybeans.
  • figs.
Apr 18, 2024

How do you know if a nut is moldy? ›

If the pointy part of the nut is starting to look pale and fuzzy, don't take that nut. This is a sign that mildew might be growing inside.

Are pistachios high in mold? ›

Pistachios are considered to be the ones with the highest risk of contamination by aflatoxins, largely due to shell splitting at end of maturation [24,25]. This shell protects the pistachio kernel and, as a consequence of splitting, pistachios are susceptible to molds and insect invasions.

What are the most shelf stable nuts? ›

Shelf life of raw nuts

Depending on the type, they can range from six to nine months when stored in a pantry or other dry place. However, some types, such as pine nuts, have a shorter shelf life of approximately two months. On the other hand, almonds can last the longest, approximately nine to twelve months.


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