Do Pumpkin Seeds Go Bad?

So you bought a bag or two of pumpkin seeds to level up your nutrition game. You add only a tablespoon or two to your breakfasts, so going through an entire bag takes months, if not more. And at some point, you start wondering: do pumpkin seeds go bad?

Or you’ve bought a bag of roasted and seasoned pumpkin seeds as something to munch on some time ago. And only recent you noticed that it’s already nearing the date on the label. That makes you think how long do pumpkin seeds last past the date on the label. Of if there is a better way to store them, so you can use them for a longer period.

If some of these wonderings sound familiar, it’s time for you to learn a bit more about pumpkin seeds. In this article, we cover storage, shelf life, and going bad. If you’re interested in expanding your knowledge in those areas, read on.

Pumpkin seeds in a container
Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

How to Store Pumpkin Seeds?

When it comes to storing pumpkin seeds (in or out of the shell), there are a few options. Unlike for chia seeds, the pantry isn’t the best by far option. It all depends on how you store the seeds and for how long you expect to keep them around.

As long as the pack is unopened, you can store it in the pantry or in the kitchen. Pick a spot that’s cool, dry, and away from sunlight and sources of heat.

Once you open the package, there are a few things to remember. First, make sure the package is always sealed tightly. If you can’t reseal the original packaging, consider pouring the seeds to a freezer bag. That’s because pumpkin seeds are prone to going rancid. So each time you open the package, the likelihood of the seeds going rancid increases. So if you expect to open the package a gazillion times each time to pick up only a handful of seeds, it’s better if you transfer some seeds to a temporary container. A smaller bag or container should do the trick. Only once you finish that container, you refill it with seeds from the original packaging. This minimizes the number of times seeds are exposed to fresh air.

Temperature is another factor that increases the chances of the seeds going rancid. So if you expect to store an opened package of seeds for a prolonged period, like more than 3 to 4 months, it’s better to refrigerate the seeds. Please remember that the seeds need to be sealed tightly in the fridge, so they don’t pick up any moisture. Because of that, a freezer bag or an airtight container is the way to go.

For storage periods longer than a year after opening the pack, it’s probably best to freeze the seeds. Just like for freezing, you need to make sure the seeds are sealed tightly before you chuck them into the freezer.

Pumpkin seeds on a table
Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

How Long Do Pumpkin Seeds Last

Pumpkin seeds usually come with a best-by date on the label. Of course, the seeds won’t go bad a day or a week past that date, but they definitely won’t stay fresh forever. Generally, the seeds in an unopened container should retain freshness for at least 1 to 3 months past the date on the label.

Once you open the container, the quality of the seeds starts degrading much faster. And it’s impossible to tell when exactly they will go rancid. That’s because there are a few things that come into play. Those things are how you store the seeds, at what temperature, and how often you open the container. The better you do on each front, the longer the seeds will retain freshness. So the best I can come up with here are rough estimates. When you’re storing the seeds in the pantry, try to finish the pack within 2 to 3 months for best quality. If you keep them in the fridge, 6 to 9 months is a pretty realistic period. In the freezer, they should easily keep their quality for longer than a year.

PantryFridge
Sesame seeds (unopened)Best-by + 1 – 3 months
Sesame seeds (opened)2 – 3 months6 – 9 months

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

How to Tell If Pumpkin Seeds Are Bad

As usual, if you notice any typical signs of going bad, like mold, any other visual changes, or an off odor, throw the seeds out.

If that’s not the case, the seeds are probably okay to eat, but they still can be rancid. If the pumpkin seeds smell or taste rancid, stale, somewhat sour, or simply not as they used to, discard them. Rancidity doesn’t mean the seeds are not safe to eat anymore, but the nutritional value might be decreased, plus rancid seems usually taste bad.