If you love almonds, you must have noticed that sometimes a packet that has been in storage for a while doesn’t taste so good. But have you ever wondered why that happens? Today’s post attempts to answer this question (and a couple more regarding almonds’ shelf life) while giving you incredible tips to keep these seeds tasting fresh and delicious. Let’s dive in!
Do Almonds Go Bad?
Yes, almonds, like all seeds with high levels of monounsaturated fats do go bad. If almonds are stored at room temperature where they are constantly exposed to oxygen and humidity, these fats start to rancidify, causing the seeds to go stale and taste sour. While spoiled almonds will likely not make you sick, the fats will no longer contain health benefits.
To keep the seeds at their best for a long time, store them in the refrigerator or just freeze them. Do not keep your almonds in the pantry unless you plan to eat them within a few days.
Most brands will print a best-by date on the package to indicate how long the seeds will keep their quality. But without proper storage, your almonds can go bad even before this date.
How Long Do Almonds Last?
There are many factors that come to play in regards to the lifespan of almonds including the type of seeds (whether raw or processed) and how they are stored (whether a packet is opened or not).
Raw almonds, for example, can keep for about one to two years in the refrigerator and about two to four months in the pantry. When it comes to processed almonds or what most people like to call snack almonds, on the other hand, the lifespan is normally indicated on the label.
While the marked date usually doesn’t mean that the seeds will become inedible, it is recommended that you eat your almonds before this date, when their quality is still intact.
Of course, the seeds will not spoil a few days beyond the date, but they will obviously start degrading. After a month or so, they will not taste as good and all the health benefits we seek in almonds will be gone!
When you open a packet of almonds, make sure to finish it quickly because the quality of the seeds will degrade pretty fast. Keep leftovers in the fridge where they can stay good for up to five weeks, but you could also store them in the pantry; just make sure to eat everything within fourteen days.
Here is a table that illustrates the lifespan of almonds in a more simplified manner.
|Raw almonds||1 to 2 years||2 to 4 months|
|Unopened snack (processed) almonds||Best-by date + 1 month||Best-by date + 5 to 7 days|
|Opened snack (processed) almonds||4 to 5 weeks||10 to 14 days|
4 Tips to Tell if Almonds Have Gone Bad
So your almonds have been in storage for a while now? Below are a few simple signs that tell you those seeds may not be safe to eat.
Mold or any other microbial growth on foods is usually the first sign that the food is done for. So, if you break out a pack of almonds and see mold on the seeds, that’s a sure indicator that the nuts have gone stale or rancid. The mold will mostly be signified by gray or black spots. Do not eat those seeds.
2. Altered Scent
Fresh almonds will usually have a sweet, appetizing, nutty smell. If a packet gives off a sour, bitter, or paint-like odor, the seeds have probably gone rancid.
Note that mild sourness may not necessarily mean that the almonds are rancid; taste the seeds to be sure.
3. Change in Taste
As with the aroma, good almonds will often taste pleasant and nutty. As soon as rancidification begins, the taste changes to sour and vinegary. Depending on how long the seeds have been left rancid, sometimes they can become too bitter that consuming them can cause digestive problems. Get rid of such almonds right away.
4. Bug Activity
Insects can sneak into a packet of almonds if it is left unsealed. This is especially true if you are storing the almonds in the pantry near a pack of grains or other seeds that insects like weevils love. They will feed on the almonds and multiply and if the seeds continue to sit in storage, you will not be able to save them.
If you see weevils crawling in and out of your almonds or if you suspect any other bug activity, toss out that entire packet. Almonds stored in the fridge will likely not suffer this problem because such bugs may not survive the cold temperatures.
3 Tips to Store Almonds
By now you already know that storing your almonds correctly is important in prolonging their shelf life. If you are not sure how to go about it, here are some pointers to help you.
1. Store Almonds in Cold Temperatures
Just like peanuts, the colder the storage environment is, the longer your almonds will last. That means the refrigerator or freezer are the two best places to keep that packet of leftover almonds.
Cold temperatures minimize oxidation, which keeps the seeds from going rancid. The only time the pantry or kitchen cabinet is a good enough spot is if you are planning to store the seeds for just a few days.
2. Choose a Dry, Dark Area
This is for those who still want to store their almonds at room temperature. A dry area will keep the seeds moisture-free and the reduced light will prevent oxidation, all of which will slow down rancidification.
3. Keep the Seeds Tightly Sealed
Whether you are storing your almonds in the refrigerator or leaving them in the pantry, always make sure the package is tightly sealed before putting the seeds away. If the bag your almonds came in cannot be resealed, transfer the seeds into an airtight container or Ziplock bag.
A proper seal helps keep the seeds not only dry but also flavorful because it locks out aromas from the nearby foods. Almonds are notorious for soaking up other food’s scents and flavors; you don’t want your packet smelling or tasting like garlic.
To learn more about storing almonds, check out this video:
The Risk of Consuming Expired Almonds
Spoiled almonds will not harm you if you have only had a small amount. But if consumed regularly, it is possible for the rancid fat to cause health problems, some of which can be chronic.
Not just that. As mentioned earlier, almonds that have gone bad will not benefit your body in any way because chances are all the important nutrients are long expired. Plus they taste awful and you will likely not enjoy having them in your mouth, so basically, there is no point in eating such almonds in the first place.
But expiration is not the only thing that makes almonds unsafe for consumption. Raw almonds have also been found to be dangerous. In fact, there have been reports of salmonella outbreaks in the United States and Canada resulting from eating raw almonds.
In response to these reports, almonds now require to be processed in some way before they can be consumed. Roasting, steaming, and blanching are just some of the ways through which almonds can be treated without destroying their nutritional value.
Can You Freeze Almonds?
Absolutely! Freezing is an excellent way to extend the lifespan of your almonds. High temperatures cause the fats inside the seeds to go rancid rapidly. Keeping the seeds in the freezer slows down rancidity, maintaining your almonds’ good taste and quality.
Almonds freeze well because they have very low moisture content, meaning that even after thawing, the seeds will still taste the same. After all, the process will not alter their taste, texture, or physical component.
Also, the freezing process is pretty easy, as you can readily place the seeds in the freezer in their original package. As long as the package is properly sealed, meaning, there are no holes or punctures where moisture can seep in and cause ice build-up, you are good to go.
But if you prefer storing your foods in containers, then pick an airtight freezer and lock the bag of almonds nicely inside. Containers are a little easier to handle because they are less prone to puncturing. They also offer that added protection that keeps the seeds from absorbing strong odors.
The size of the freezer you choose will depend on the amount of almonds you have. If you have a huge batch, consider freezing the seeds in small containers so you don’t keep reopening the big batch.
Almonds are an important part of our diet. To keep yours pampering you with all their benefits, make sure they are stored correctly. The most crucial thing to keep in mind is that if your almonds taste or smell awful, you should not consume them. The same goes for raw almonds.