Do Cashews Go Bad?

So you’ve bought your first jar of cashews to level up your nutrition game. You opened the package, and try to eat a handful as a pick-me-up snack around noon. So far things are going great, but you noticed that the label suggests that you should finish the cashews within about 2 weeks. Do cashews go bad?

Or maybe you bought cashews in bulk and aren’t sure how to store them, so they last the longest. You heard some people refrigerate these nuts, but you find it quite odd. Plus refrigerator and freezer space come at a premium in your household, so you want to use that space only if it actually benefits the cashews.

If some of those concerns sound familiar, and you would like to read more about storage, shelf life, and going bad of cashews, this article is for you.

Various nuts
Image used under Creative Commons from Ruth Hartnup

How to Store Cashew Nuts

Cashews are nut seeds that can be served as a healthy snack as is or as an ingredient in desserts, salads, appetizers, stews, and other dishes. But no matter how you plan on using them, it’s important to know what proper storage of these nuts looks like.

Like other nuts, such as almonds or pecans, cashews are high in oil, and that means they will go rancid at some point. Factors that speed up going rancid include exposure to heat, sunlight, and air. And since these nuts are sold without their shells, they don’t have any natural protection against those factors. Knowing all that, let’s talk about what you should do to make them last the longest.

Let’s start with how to store them. If you buy cashews in bulk, e.g., in a brown bag, you should transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag once you get home. That will help with minimizing air exposure. If you buy them in a plastic package, transfer them to one of the mentioned containers once you open the bag. If they come in a jar, or a resealable can, you can keep the nuts in them both before and after opening.

Okay, now it’s time to talk about where to keep them. Pre-packaged cashews usually can sit at room temperature until opened. They are quite safe in the jar or plastic package, but make sure they sit in a dark cabinet away from sources of heat. Once you open the box, the nuts retain quality at room temperature for only a short period. If you’d like to extend that period, refrigeration or freezing is the way to go. When it comes to cashews you bought in bulk, the story is quite the same. Choose room temperature for short term storage or the fridge or freezer for the long term.

For refrigerating cashews, remember they are hygroscopic. So make sure they are sealed tightly, as they tend to absorb moisture and pick up strong odors from the environment.

When it comes to freezing cashews, make sure the nuts are well protected. Airtight containers and freezer bags work best for that purpose. If possible, choose resealable bags, as they are both environment-friendly and take the least space in the freezer. Remember to squeeze as much air out of the package as you can before sealing. Obviously, you can use the original container, if it’s sealed tightly and freezer friendly.

Cashews in a sealed bag
Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

How Long Do Cashews Last

AS you already know, cashews can go rancid. And these nuts are much more likely to go rancid that to spoil in the usual meaning of this term. That means when we’re talking about shelf life, we’re talking how long they will last before they go rancid and lose some of its creamy taste and nutrition value.

Let’s start with raw cashews bought in bulk. These should retain freshness for about a month in the pantry, and close to 6 months in the fridge. For extended storage, freeze them.

When it comes to pre-packaged cashews, they usually come with a best-by date. And you can easily assume that you can keep the nuts unopened in the pantry or kitchen until that date. In case you were wondering, the shelf life varies between sellers and manufacturers. But usually, it falls somewhere between six months and a year. It all depends on how the nuts are processed before packaging.

Once you open the package, the nuts should stay fresh for about 2 weeks in the pantry, and about a month in the fridge. Once again, if you need to store them for longer, freeze the cashews.

Of course, the nuts will usually last a bit longer before they go rancid, but it’s really not possible to determine how long exactly.

Pantry Fridge
Raw cashews (bought in bulk) 4 weeks 6 months
Cashews (packaged, unopened) Best-by + 1 month
Cashews (packaged, opened) 2 weeks 4 weeks

Please note the periods above are estimates and for the best quality only.

How To Tell If Cashews Have Gone Bad

First off, check for signs of mold growth especially for nuts that have been stored in the pantry for a while. If there are any, discard the nuts.

Cashews tend to have a pleasant aroma as well as a creamy taste when the nuts are at the peak of freshness. But as time goes by, the nuts will start darkening and taking on a brittle consistency. When it comes to signs of deterioration, a shriveled, darkened appearance, is another one. If the nuts don’t look that bad, you can taste one and decide if they are still good enough to eat or not. But if they have completely dried, it’s time for them to go. Also, ff the cashews have taken on a bitter taste, the nuts are already rancid, and therefore no good.