Pine nuts come from pine trees and are commonly used in salads, baking goods, and pesto. They might not be as high in protein, but they’re still delicious to sprinkle in meals.
Can you remember when you bought that bag of pine nuts you have sitting in the pantry? Maybe you need some to make pesto, but you can’t recall when you purchased it.
Take a few minutes to read the article below as we discuss can pine nuts go bad and what you can do to preserve them as long as possible.
Table of Contents
Do Pine Nuts Go Bad?
Pine nuts have a high oil content, which causes them to go bad rather quickly. All nuts go bad, including cashews, peanuts, and walnuts, but these usually take longer to spoil.
Over time, pine nuts turn rancid and stale. Of course, you can still eat them once this happens, but you probably won’t be happy with the taste.
How long it takes for them to turn stale depends on how and where you store them.
The food you made with pine nuts won’t last nearly as long due to other ingredients. Determining whether it’s gone bad is relatively easy, even without tasting it.
How Long Do Pine Nuts Last
Much like any other food, pine nuts come with a best-by date somewhere on the package. You should always try to go through the package before the date to get the most out of it in terms of quality.
Pine nuts don’t last as long, and you’ll notice the best-by date is about two to three months away. This is because they don’t retain the freshness that well.
Even going past that date is okay at times, but you can expect them to turn rancid any day. For this reason, it’s crucial you ensure the taste and scent are still good before using them.
As we said, how long these last depends on how you store them. So, the ones you kept in your pantry won’t last as long as the ones you froze.
Check out the table below for further guidance.
|Unopened package||3 months||4 months|
|Opened package||1 month||4 months|
In most cases, it’s best to keep them in a fridge or freezer, although your pantry is also an option. In this case, you have about a month to use the pack before its quality degrades, but only if your pantry is cool, dark, and dry.
Tips to Tell if Pine Nuts have Gone Bad?
Pine nuts have a unique taste you won’t find in any other nuts, so it’s pretty easy to tell they’ve gone bad. So your first indicator should be the purchase date/best-by date.
In other words, if you’re sure the pack you have is six months old, you probably don’t even have to taste it. At this point, you’ll end up with a taste of rancid nuts lingering in your mouth all day long.
Not only is the taste gone, but so is the quality. It usually takes only about two months for the nuts to start losing the good stuff.
But, if you don’t know when you bought it and want to be positive it’s no longer usable – you should do a few checkups. Determining if pine nuts are spoiled is relatively easy, but you will probably have to take the risk of trying a few.
Here’s what you can do:
Check how they look
Is there anything weird about your pine nuts you can notice right away? White and green specs developed on the surface are almost always mold, which takes a while to show up.
It’s unlikely to mold if stored in the fridge, so this usually happens with those kept in the pantry. Any sign of mold should indicate that your pine nuts are rancid and ready for the trash can.
Pine nuts have a pleasant nutty smell, so you’ll probably be able to tell the difference once they go rancid. Spoiled nuts have a sour, rancid odor that’s pretty overpowering. It’s your sign that the nuts are unusable and best to be thrown away because they could spoil your entire recipe.
Take a bite
Eating rancid nuts isn’t the most pleasant experience, but it’s sometimes the only way of telling if they’re still good to go. Luckily, it’s easy to determine by just taking a bite, meaning that you won’t have to eat a lot. You’ll know they’re rancid the moment you start chewing, after which you can spit it all out.
Tips to Store Pine Nuts
Pine nuts don’t have a long shelf life and will inevitably go bad soon after you open the package. Even if it’s an opened one, you only have a few months to go through it before it turns rancid.
However, as it’s the case with pretty much any food, its longevity depends on how you store it. Storing in the pantry isn’t the same as storing in the fridge, both of which giving different results.
The good thing is that pine nuts are small and come in small packages. This is partly because they have a short shelf life, but also for easier storing as it won’t take up too much space.
Storing them is easy, but there are a few things you might want to pay attention to in order to get the best out of them.
Choose the right container
Pine nuts usually come in opaque bags that you may or may not be able to reseal. Either way, resealing is critical, so try to find a way to do it before storing the pack.
You can do this by transferring your bunch into an airtight jar, container, or freezer bag. It’s important to place them in something airtight to prevent oxygen and moisture from entering.
Choose the right spot
As we said, you can store pine nuts in the freezer, fridge, or pantry. It depends on your needs and preferences, but remember that each storage method offers different results.
In other words, the same amount of pine nuts will go rancid faster if in the pantry instead of the fridge. For this reason, this is something you want to pay special attention to.
Think about how much time you need to go through the pack. You can store it in the fridge or pantry if you know you’ll use it within a few weeks. If you’re unsure when you’ll need it again, it’s best you place it in the freezer.
Mark the time
You have about a month to use your pine nuts past their best-by date. However, you can easily forget this date if you transfer the nuts from their original packaging into an airtight container.
Use a sticker to write the best-by date or the date when you bought the pack and placed it in the freezer. It’s highly useful information you’ll find relevant in the future.
Risks if Consuming Expired Pine Nuts
Eating a few rancid pine nuts won’t do any harm apart from giving you the worst aftertaste ever. It’s the taste that can cause nausea, vomiting, and even diarrhea, but this usually depends on how sensitive you are.
If you eat a whole bunch of rancid nuts, you might experience more severe health issues that last for a few days. These can upset your stomach, giving you diarrhea and vomiting for days on end, including Pine mouth, or Pine Nut Syndrome, which lasts two to four weeks.
Although there’s no risk of health issues you won’t be able to recover from, it’s still unpleasant to end up with an upset stomach only due to a few nuts.
For this reason, it’s best to dispose of any nuts you think might have gone bad.
Can you Freeze Pine Nuts?
As we mentioned, you can store pine nuts in the freezer if you’re interested in keeping them fresh for as long as possible. Sadly, even with freezing, you can only get about 4 months before the quality starts to degrade.
This is why it’s important to time stamp the container before placing it in the freezer. Once four months have passed, it’s unlikely you’ll remember exactly when you froze the nuts, and you’ll have to do the whole taste testing thing.
If you choose to freeze pine nuts, transfer them into a freezer bag or an airtight container. Place a sticker indicating when you did this, or use a sharpie to write on the box.
Cold temperatures will help to preserve the nuts for a little longer, giving you some extra time to go through the pack.
You don’t have to give up this healthy snack just because it has a short shelf life. Instead, try to be mindful and buy small packages when you know you only need a few nuts for your salad.
Any leftovers are best to keep in the freezer, although even your fridge is a good option. Think about how often you’ll use it again before deciding on a storage method.
These can last long enough as long as you keep them at a steady temperature and in the right type of container or bag.