Can you get sick from eating expired nuts?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you get sick from eating expired nuts?”, how to tell if the nuts are rancid, how long do nuts stay fresh past the expiry date, how to store nuts, and what to do with stale or old nuts. 

Can you get sick from eating expired nuts?

Yes, you can get sick from eating expired nuts. But ‘bad’ is a vague term in this case. Expired nuts may be bad in the sense of becoming moldy or they may be just rancid. Moldy nuts are unfit for consumption whereas rancid nuts are mostly of poor quality.

While most people can eat a small number of rancid nuts with no unpleasant after effects, others will experience an upset stomach. Eating moldy nuts can lead to food poisoning which is characterized by nausea, vomiting, headache, and stomach cramps. 

How to tell if the nuts are rancid?

Off-smell: Fresh nuts give off a fresh and mild nutty smell. A shift in the smell of the nuts is easily noticeable. If the nuts emanate a smell that is reminiscent of an old plastic container, nail polish, or paint, the nuts are rancid 

Taste: You can never go wrong with this. If the taste is off, you have no reason to keep the nuts. A sour or bitter taste is what you would expect from rancid nuts.

How long do nuts stay fresh past the expiry?

It depends on the type of nuts and how they were stored. Under refrigeration, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazel nuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, and walnuts stay fresh for up to a year past the expiry.

Once frozen, you can expect them to last up to 2 years. Whereas pine nuts will only last 3-4 months in the fridge and 5-6 months in the freezer past the expiry.

At room temperature, cashews, macadamia nuts, and peanuts stay fresh for about 6-9 months after the expiration. Pine nuts last the shortest, that is 1-2 months, at room temperature. The shelf-life of other types of nuts past the expiry averages between 3-6 months. 

How to store nuts?

Light, heat, and moisture are the arch enemy of the quality of nuts. The high unsaturated fatty acid content of nuts makes them highly susceptible to spoilage. 

Minimizing the exposure of nuts to light, heat, and moisture will prevent fat oxidation. Let’s see how you can store the nuts to avoid rancidity and quick spoilage.

Home-grown nuts 

It is easy for the home-grown nuts to pick up moisture from the soil. Therefore, you need to get them to dry out completely before storage. To do this, de-husk the nuts and spread them in a well-circulated area for several days. 

To kill any potential insect larvae or eggs that the nuts may contain, freeze the nuts for about 48 hours. Then transfer the nuts to an air-tight container or freezer bag. Keep the nuts in a cool pantry, or preferably in the fridge or freezer. 


It is preferred you store nuts with their shells intact. The shell provides an extra layer of protection which keeps the nuts fresh for longer.

If the nuts are shelled, and you want them to last for up to a year, consider freezing them. Due to a high oil/fat content, nuts easily pick up surrounding odors.

Therefore, make sure the nuts do not come anywhere close to the strong odor foods such as onions, and garlic during storage. 

Store-bought nuts 

You can keep your store-bought nuts in a cool pantry or at room temperature as long as they are unopened. Once opened, it is suggested you keep them in the fridge or freezer after transferring them to an air-tight container such as a ziplock bag or a glass jar. 

What to do with stale or old nuts?

If the nuts have lost that characteristic crisp texture, all is not lost. You can still freshen them up by heating them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350F. If you do not have an oven, try microwaving the stale nuts.

Make sure to check the nuts after equal intervals to prevent them from burning. If neither an oven nor a microwave is an option, toast the stale nuts o the stovetop for a few minutes or until they crisp up. 


In this article, we answered the question “Can you get sick from eating expired nuts?”, how to tell if the nuts are rancid, how long do nuts stay fresh past the expiry date, how to store nuts, and what to do with stale or old nuts. 


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