Pecans are a healthy source of fat. It is certainly worth having them around and eating a few of them as a healthy snack. They also make a perfect topping for salads, or work as a substitute for other kinds of nuts. (Substitutes for Chestnuts – What Can I Use Instead?, Substitutes for Macadamia Nuts – What Can I Use Instead?)
But how long do pecans last? The shelf life of pecans differs depending on whether they are shelled or not and where and how you are storing them. If you want pecans to last long, be they shelled or in-shell, you need to store them in the freezer. You can keep pecans at room temperature only when you know you will be eating them within a few weeks. Otherwise, you are risking making the pecans go rancid.
In this article, you will get answers to all your questions regarding the storage conditions and shelf life of pecans.
Do Pecans Go Bad?
Pecans, like all other nuts, are high in fat. There is a high amount of oil in pecans which means that they are prone to going rancid if not stored properly.
If you don’t eat pecans often, we recommend buying a smaller bag so that you can finish it before the nuts get a chance to spoil. But if you use pecans often, be it in a breakfast bowl, smoothie, baking, or simply as a snack, you may buy them in a larger amount if you happen to find a deal.
In such cases, it is important to store pecans right to extend their shelf life and maintain their best quality.
How to Store Pecans?
The storage rules that apply to most nuts apply to pecans too. To prevent pecans from going rancid, there are a few things you should do.
Firstly, you should keep pecans away from heat sources and direct sunlight. Secondly, you shouldn’t keep pecans in a room where the temperature fluctuates. Lastly, pecans shouldn’t be exposed to moisture.
For the most part, people prefer buying shelled pecans to save them from the trouble of shelling them and removing the nut itself undamaged.
The shell of pecans, however, is a good layer of protection. If you have bought in-shell pecans, store them in a cool and dry place. The pantry will work great for this reason. In-shell pecans can also be stored in the fridge or in the freezer for extended shelf life.
When it comes to shelled pecans, you have three options.
Although some people are against storing shelled pecans at room temperature, there is nothing wrong with doing that so long as you don’t expect the nuts to keep well for months.
You can store shelled pecans in the pantry or in a kitchen cabinet where it is dry and cool. Put the pecans in an airtight container or bag making sure you close or seal it tightly after you take out a handful of nuts every time. Both plastic and glass containers will work well for storing pecans.
The same refers to storing shelled pecans in the fridge. Keep the nuts in a jar with a well-fitting lid or a heavy-duty zip-top bag. The container is key as it prevents the nuts from absorbing both moisture and odors from other items in the fridge.
Can You Store Pecans in the Freezer?
In many cases, freezing is considered to be an option for simply extending the shelf life of products comprising their texture or flavor. With pecans, however, freezing is considered to be the best storage method.
Freezing pecans is very easy. Just put them in the freezer in a plastic bag or container. It should be noted though, that plastic bags are more convenient and space-saving as you can squeeze out the excess air from the bag and store it however you want.
When it comes to using frozen pecans, there isn’t much you have to do either. You don’t have to defrost pecans. Just take them out of the freezer, let them come back to life, and use them.
Unlike many other products, you can even refreeze pecans. This will not cause them to deteriorate in quality.
How Long Do Pecans Last?
In-shell pecans stored at room temperature have a shelf life of 6 to 12 months. Refrigerated in-shell pecans will keep well for around 18 months. The freezer, on the other hand, can extend the shelf life of in-shell pecans to 24 months.
Shelled pecans stored in an airtight container, in a cool and dry place, will keep well for around 8 weeks. The shelf life of refrigerated shelled pecans is 9 months.
The freezer provides the longest shelf life for pecans as the low temperature prevents the nuts from getting rancid. Shelled pecans stored in the freezer have a shelf life of at least 24 months.
Prepackaged shelled pecans come with a date. While the date printed on the packaging is simply the manufacturer’s estimation of how long the nuts will last, it is a good guide for those who have trouble detecting bad pecans or don’t know how long they should be keeping them.
Signs That Pecans Have Gone Bad
There are a few things you should look out for with shelled pecans.
First off, if there are any signs of mold in the container with nuts, discard them. Any kind of fuzzy growth is also an indication of spoiled pecans.
Secondly, if you see bugs in pecans, toss them out. Bugs can easily get into a loosely sealed container. However, this can also happen during the process of shelling pecans when you crack open a bad one and let the bug find its way to the good nuts.
Third, you should discard pecans if they taste bitter. This means that the nuts have gone rancid. If you have had a bag of pecans for too long and have decided to use it in a recipe, try one out before using the nuts. Otherwise, rancid pecans will make the entire dish taste extremely bad.
Lastly, if pecans are all dried out, the best option is to discard them. While dried out pecans won’t cause any health issues, they are certainly not a pleasure to eat.
Things are different with unshelled pecans. You never know whether they are good or not until you crack them open. The only thing you can do is to shake them to see if they rattle or not. If the pecans feel light and empty, discard them as they are most likely dried out or bad.
How Long Do Candied Pecans Last?
Candied pecans have a shelf life of 14 to 21 if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place.
There is no need to refrigerate candied pecans if you know you will be eating them within this time range.
If you want the candied pecans to keep longer, store them in the fridge or in the freezer. Candied pecans stored in the fridge will keep well for up to a month. The freezer, on the other hand, will extend the shelf life to at least two months.
Store candied pecans in the fridge in a glass jar or a plastic container with a well-fitting lid. As for the freezer, zip-top bags are the best option as you can squeeze out the excess air and minimize the contact of candied pecans with oxygen.