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How long do peanuts last? Can they go bad?

Many of us, including myself, have the nasty habit of bulk buying extreme amounts of peanuts in one go. Generally, this happens because we simply can’t resist a good deal on a food that has so many uses, from satays to homemade peanut butter. But, as it turns out, this may not be the greatest idea. After all, there is probably no worldwide shortage of peanuts coming our way in the near future, and they simply taste better the fresher they are.

We can then avoid the situation where you end up in a race against time to consume all these nuts. At first, it’s easy – you eat a handful here, some are used in cooking, others become a component of a trail-mix. But then, we can find ourselves becoming fed up of eating them just to save them from the inevitable decay. Because, unfortunately, peanuts do go bad. What’s more is that they may not last anywhere near as long as you might think they would. So, with that, we decided to put together a comprehensive guide which will inform you of how long they last, how to prolong that shelf-life, and perhaps most importantly, how to tell when they have gone off.


The Best Way to Store Peanuts

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Peanuts are incredibly responsive to temperature more so than any other element. As a result, there are only really two viable ways to store them to ensure that they last as long as possible. There is the refrigeration option and the pantry option. Of these approaches, both have their pros and cons so we’re going to just list them out and let you decide which is the best fit for you. Whichever you choose, the best way to store them is in an airtight container in a cool dark place. This means that if you buy them loose and by the kilo at your local market, you will need to transfer them straight away. In order to ensure that they live longer, it is also a good idea to check for insect damage before transferring them.

In the refrigerator

When refrigerated, peanuts can last for quite some time longer than their pantry equivalent. The key is to make sure that they aren’t exposed to any moisture in the process. This may come as a surprise, but the fridge is by no means a dry area. Moisture permeates the fridge and can easily cause peanuts to go bad long before their due date. To prevent this, always keep them in an airtight container while refrigerating.

In the pantry

We find this is the most practical method of storing peanuts and peanut butter for long periods of time. Yes, it is true that peanuts stored in the refrigerator will last longer, but it simply isn’t that practical unless you have a giant fridge or more than one fridge. Asides from this, all of the basic storage needs of the peanuts are met. They don’t get exposed to too much heat, light, or oxygen, and because of this they last a reasonably long time. Naturally, the hotter your kitchen, the shorter shelf life these peanuts will have.  



How Long Do Peanuts Last?

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How Long Do Plums Last? Can they Go Bad?

The shelf life of peanuts depends heavily on two factors; whether or not they are shelled, and if they are kept away from moisture. If they are stored still in the shell, the shell acts as a natural barrier against moisture and light. In this stage, they can survive the atmosphere in your pantry for a reasonably long time. On the contrary, when they are out of their shell, they are vulnerable to the elements and may begin to deteriorate rapidly. In terms of putting an accurate time frame on the life of your peanuts, the best by date on the package is actually a good indicator in this case. However, if you buy your nuts in bulk, this rough guideline should point you in the right direction.

Peanuts in the shell:

In shell peanuts will last much longer in the pantry than their shelled counterparts; up to 4 times longer, in fact. As a general guide, we recommend storing them for up to 4 months in the pantry and as long as a full year in the fridge. Naturally, if you live in a colder climate, the peanuts will last longer in the pantry than our stated date.

Unshelled peanuts:

Without the shell to protect them, these peanuts will most likely begin to noticeably reduce in quality after as little as 4 weeks. However, if stored in an airtight container, they can also last for up to a year in your fridge.


Signs That Your Peanuts May Have Gone Off

Peanuts rarely get the chance to go off to the point where they are unrecognizable as peanuts anymore. Generally, the signs are much more subtle and not that dangerous in the early stages. Obvious signs of mold won’t even begin to show up until the nuts are already far beyond tasting anyway good. Because of this, we recommend looking for the more subtle signs instead. Perhaps the easiest way to test your peanuts is to simply give them a little sniff. The aroma of peanuts that have gone off is no longer that rich and almost buttery smell, but instead almost has the same notes as sour milk.

Should you be in any doubt, the next logical step is to have a taste of one or two. This should give away the status of your peanuts instantly as, if they are no longer fresh, they will taste quite bitter and fairly unpleasant. The chance of getting sick from eating a few gone off peanuts is minimal, but we still wouldn’t recommend continuing to use them if you are in any doubt.


Should Peanuts be Refrigerated?

There is some logic to putting peanuts in the fridge, but it is by no means an absolute requirement. The chances are also pretty good that space in the refrigerator is already at a premium. We would suggest that it is a much better idea to keep this space for items that perish quicker and to instead opt to buy less at a time and store them in the pantry.

We have never happened across anyone who actually stores peanuts in the freezer, but it can be done if you are desperate. When doing this, the best practice is to seal them tightly into freezer bags or airtight containers. It is worth noting that because peanuts have a fairly high fat content, they won’t freeze entirely. However, it is still a safe and viable option when it comes to long term storage. Peanuts should also be shelled before freezing. Under these conditions, frozen raw peanuts can last indefinitely.


Peanut Storage, Sell-by Dates, and Other Related Questions

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How long do peanuts last after packaging?

Peanuts are one of the few foods out there where the expiry date printed on the bag is wholly relevant. If you have opened the bag, the best way to ensure that they remain good is to immediately seal them in an airtight container in either your pantry or fridge. They will then stay good for as long as four weeks.

Will peanut butter last longer than peanuts?

A jar of peanut butter can last for up to 4 months after opening if stored in the pantry. However, if stored in the fridge after opening, this shelf life can be extended to up to a year. There is an easy way to check if your peanut butter has expired. Simply have a look to see if the oil has separated from the rest of the contents. If this has occurred, it is best to discard the jar entirely. It can also harden or turn a darker brown color. In these cases, it is also the best procedure to discard it.

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