Do Cashews Go Bad?

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. Since cashews have a creamy taste and are high in protein, these seed nuts are also used as a base for vegan cheesecakes and other diet-friendly treats. Cashews are often sold without their shells and in bulk. So what if you bought too many bags of cashews? Do cashews go bad? How long should you keep cashews in storage and what can you do to stretch their shelf life?

Cashews, just like most nut seeds, are high in plant oils that could become rancid at some point. The natural oils in cashews could oxidize when exposed to heat or direct sunlight. Extended air exposure is not good either. This means cashews could go bad especially when stored improperly. Cashews, in particular, turn rancid much more quickly than some nuts and seed nuts! Just like any type of perishable goods, you have to pack and store cashews properly to extend their shelf life.

Image used under Creative Commons from Ruth Hartnup

Cashews are often sold without their shells. The seed nuts are roasted, dried, and then salted to increase their shelf life. Usually, the cashews are packed in plastic containers, plastic packets, and glass jars. You want to use an airtight container when storing cashews at home. If you are harvesting and roasting the cashews yourself, make sure the nuts are completely dry to minimize the risk of mold growth while in storage!

It helps if you purchase the nuts from a reputable seller, one that only sells the freshest goods. Freshly packed cashews tend to have a longer shelf life. Also, if you can limit the number of cashews you buy to what you need, do it for optimal quality.

How to Store Cashew Nuts?

Storing Cashews in the Pantry

Sealed or unopened containers of cashews are best stored at room temperature. Cashews are processed by drying and adding salt to the nuts prior to packing. This discourages bacterial and mold growth, making the nuts shelf stable. The lack of moisture means it’s safe to store cashews in the pantry even without their shells. You want to keep the cashews away from sources of heat, light, moisture, and humidity for best results. We suggest stowing bags of cashews in the kitchen cabinet to protect the nuts from the elements. No additional prep is needed for keeping store-bought cashews in the pantry.

Storing Cashews in the Refrigerator

This method is best for opened containers of cashews or if you harvested and processed fresh cashews from your garden. Since the fridge is full of moist air, the cashews may degrade slightly when stored this way. However, as long as you are using an airtight container, this shouldn’t be a problem at all. No need to transfer the seed nuts in a different container, store the cashews in their original packaging.

For storing freshly harvested cashews, you have to roast the seed nuts first before refrigeration. Do note that roasting can accelerate rancidity when the seed nuts are left sitting at room temperature for several hours. This means, as soon as the seed nuts have cooled completely, pack them for refrigeration to seal in the freshness.

Storing Cashews in the Freezer

Yes, you can also freeze cashew nuts for long-term storage. This goes for fresh and store-bought cashews. Simply transfer the seed nuts in a freezer-safe container and keep the container tightly sealed. It is best to split the cashews into manageable portions to make thawing less of hassle. For raw or fresh cashews, clean the seeds first then roast them. Once cooled, pack the seed nuts in a freezer-safe container then stick in the freezer. Cashews tend to have a softer texture than some nuts and freezing could cause the nuts to become brittle or grainy. This is something to keep in mind if you are using cashews as an ingredient for cakes and desserts.

Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

Shelf Life of Cashews

When stored in the pantry, bagged and store-bought cashews will keep in the pantry for at least a month or so. When stored in the fridge, the nut seeds will keep for at least 6 months. In the freezer, cashews will keep indefinitely especially when the temperature is kept at a steady 0 degrees Fahrenheit. However, we recommend consuming the cashews within 3 to 5 months for optimal quality. Home roasted cashews, on the other hand, have a shorter shelf life, about a month in the fridge, max.

How to Tell if Cashews Have Gone Bad

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. If the nuts have taken on a shriveled, darkened appearance, the cashews may have gone bad. If the cashews have taken on a bitter taste, the nuts are already rancid. Always check for signs of mold growth especially for nuts that have been stored in the pantry for a while.

Summary

Do cashews go bad? Cashew nuts make the best snacks but use up your supply as soon as possible to enjoy their creamy taste! Cashew nuts, just like any type of perishable goods, will go bad at some point. If in case you bought cashews in bulk, keep all the storage tips we’ve outlined above to maximize your supply.