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How Long Do Hazelnuts Last? Can They Go Bad?

Hazelnuts are also called filberts or cobnuts. They have a smooth, brown, and hard shell that keeps the kernels protected from the outside world. The cream-colored seeds or kernels usually taste mellow, nutty, and sweet when roasted. The outer layer of the kernel is embraced with a dark brown skin that tastes slightly bitter. In the market, it is either sold shelled or not shelled. 


Hazelnuts are opened using a nutcracker. The kernel’s outer dark brown skin is removed by baking or roasting under medium heat until the skins start to split, and the kernels turn golden. Once the baking or roasting process is done, the skins fall off by rubbing it. With this, you can have a handful of a healthy snack, or you can add it in a muesli bowl, or use it as toppings for cakes and other delicacies, or grind it to baking flour. 


Just like any other nuts, hazelnuts have a high-fat content. Specifically, hazelnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fats – a kind of good fat. This kind of fat can get rancid if you don’t keep it in the right storage conditions. 


So, how do you keep hazelnuts fresh? Do you any idea how long you can store it? Can you eat it if it has already expired? Can you tell if the hazelnuts have gone bad? If you have these queries in mind, we would love to share our knowledge with you! 


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In this post, we’ll crack some information about storage, shelf life, and spoilage of hazelnuts. 


Read on!


(Also Read: Substitutes For Hazelnuts – What Can I Use Instead?)


How To Store Hazelnuts


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Shelled or not, the fresher the hazelnuts you got from the stores, the longer you can keep them in your storage.


Make sure the unshelled hazelnuts you got are slightly heavy and with its shell well-intact. Do not buy the ones that already have cracks or holes on the shell. For shelled hazelnuts, purchase the ones that are sold in a sealed container. For bulk purchases, buy it in stores with a fast turnover of this product, where stocks are always new and most likely fresh. 


Storing hazelnuts applies similarly to any other kind of nuts. You can keep your hazelnuts in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. It’s your choice where you want to keep them!


Refrigerator and freezer. Either shelled or not, if you want your hazelnuts to last for months, it is best to store them in the cold storage, such as the fridge or the freezer. Remember that you will need to put your shelled hazelnuts in a resealable freezer bag or container before refrigerating or freezing it. 


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It does not require any packaging for unshelled ones in case you want to put it in the cold storage. The shell of the hazelnut will serve as protection from damage. And, the nice thing about unshelled hazelnuts, you can thaw and refrozen it repeatedly. It won’t significantly destroy its flavor or texture.


Pantry. You can keep your unopened packs of hazelnuts in a cool, dry place like the pantry or kitchen cabinet. Once opened, it should be transferred in an airtight container. However, storing them at the pantry or at room temperature should only be your last option if you run out of space in your cold storage. 


In general, whether you have the shelled ones or not, to avoid them from going rancid, always make sure that your hazelnuts are kept in a cool and dark place, and away from any heat exposure.


How long do they last?


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Packed hazelnuts usually come with an expiration date, “best buy” date or “best before date” on the label. 


At room temperature, take note that unshelled hazelnuts will last longer than the shelled ones. Unshelled hazelnuts can survive in the pantry from 6 to 12 months while the shelled ones will stay from 3 to 4 months. 


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In cold storage, hazelnuts can hold their quality for at least a year in the refrigerator while it can last up to two years in the freezer. 


If you buy hazelnuts in bulk, you should try to find out when it has arrived in that store. Getting them at the farmers’ market is usually harvested fresh. If you buy hazelnuts at the grocery store, you may assume that it has stayed on-display for at least a month or more. With that thought, you will have to adjust your expectations in estimating its shelf life.


Can I eat expired hazelnuts?

Sometimes, you might have forgotten that you bought a pack of hazelnuts some time ago, and now that you have suddenly remembered it, it has already reached its expiration date. 


Yes, it can still be okay to eat if you had them stored safely, even if it is already a few weeks or a month past its expiration date. And of course, before you toss some nuts in your mouth, you must check its quality first if it still looks and tastes okay for consumption. 


How to tell if hazelnuts have gone bad?


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Generally speaking, nuts have unsaturated fats that are naturally prone to oxidation when exposed to heat, light, and air. These kinds of exposure will destroy the molecular structure of fats, converting it to short-chain fatty acids. These short-chain fatty acids are the reason why any type of nut can go rancid.  


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Luckily for hazelnuts, it contains less of this kind of fat, unlike walnuts, pecans, and pine nuts. In other words, hazelnuts have a lower risk for rancidity compared to different types of nuts. 


Before you do anything with your hazelnuts, make sure they are safe to eat, especially when you have kept them in the storage for a while. 


Here are the signs of rancidity that you should check before you ruin your food with it:

  1. It has an odor that reminds you of nail polish, paints, old plastic containers, or it has a strange grassy scent.
  2. It looks yellow, dark, or oily.
  3. It tastes unpleasant, nasty, sour, harsh, and bitter.

Sometimes, your hazelnuts may smell okay, but that is not enough to conclude that it is okay to eat them. Usually, the flavor changes first before the odor does. Hence, take a few to eat and judge if they’re still good or not. 

Here are more signs of hazelnut spoilage:

  1. Mold growth on the kernels
  2. Dried out and shriveled kernels

If you notice any signs that are present, it is best to dispose of the nuts. 

However, if you think the hazelnuts are not rancid but taste a little bit off and not so crunchy, you can try roasting them to bring out the flavor. Give it a try and see if it works. 


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What would happen if I ate rancid hazelnuts?

Besides experiencing an unpleasant taste after testing the hazelnuts, one won’t suffer immediate side effects after eating spoiled them in most cases. So, having one or two rancid nuts won’t instantly lead you to death. However, eating rancid hazelnuts is not healthy at all. 


In some cases, eating a whole bunch of rancid nuts can irritate the lining of your stomach and intestines. Some may even experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. You have to be concerned with the long-term effects because these rancid oils from the nuts can be converted to potentially toxic compounds that can be carcinogenic and can cause inflammation.

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