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Can Brazil Nuts Go Bad?

Have you bought Brazil nuts and forgot about the package right after putting it in storage? Now, a couple of months later, you wonder: can Brazil nuts go bad?

Or maybe you’ve heard that eating too many Brazil nuts is bad, but you’re not sure why is that or if it’s even true.

If such questions have brought you here, this article is for you. And before we get going, you should know that it’s true: eating a whole package of Brazil nuts in one sitting or a single day is a terrible idea.

Portion of healthy Brazil Nuts
Portion of healthy Brazil Nuts

Can Brazil Nuts Go Bad? How Do You Know If Brazil Nuts Are Bad?

Like pine nuts or nuts in general, Brazil nuts can go bad. Things to look out for include:

  • Visual changes. If there are any specks of mold, white fuzz, or black spots on the surface of the nut, it’s done for. If the skin is wrinkled and the nutmeat dried out, it’s up to you if you want to eat or discard such nuts. Make sure you give one a taste before using in any baked goods or salads, though.
  • Rancidity. If the nuts smell is changed and remind you of old paint, some chemicals, or it’s bitter, that’s a sure sign of rancidity. Same thing if the taste turns harsh and bitter. Please note that taste changes are more common and easier to spot than odor changes.

One thing to remember is that Brazil nuts usually come with their skins partially still on, and that’s okay. No need to remove them, either.

The amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids in Brazil nuts isn’t particularly high (a bit over 30 percent of the overall fat) (ND). That means these nuts don’t go rancid super fast, but also aren’t super resistant to the process. If you follow good storage practices (more on that later), yours should last quite some time.

Heap of Brazil Nuts
Heap of Brazil Nuts

How Long Do Brazil Nuts Last?

If you checked a bunch of packages of Brazil nuts, you would find that their best-by dates usually range from 6 months to a year. And that’s how long you can store those nuts at around room temperature. Obviously, the better the storage conditions, the longer they keep quality.

If you need to store the Brazil nuts for longer than say 6 to 9 months, choose the fridge instead of room temperature.

Last but not least, if you’ve bought a ton of them and need to keep them around for over a year, the freezer is where you should store them.

Long story short, for regular use the pantry or a cabinet in the kitchen are good enough. If, for any reason, you need more time, go with cold storage.

As I mentioned earlier, eating a whole bunch of Brazil nuts at once to finish off the package is a bad idea. These nuts are very high in selenium (recommended in treating selenium deficit), and eating too many might lead to selenium toxicity (HL). Stick to one to three Brazil nuts per day, and you’re going to be fine (HL).

Nine varieties of nuts almond, cashew, brazil, hazelnut, peanut, pecan, pine, pistachio, macadamia
Nine varieties of nuts almond, cashew, Brazil, hazelnut, peanut, pecan, pine, pistachio, macadamia

How To Store Brazil Nuts?

To get the most out of your Brazil nuts, you need to store them properly. And the storage guidelines are pretty much the same as for other nuts, e.g., almonds or pecans.

Brazil nuts usually are sold shelled, so to avoid them going rancid too quickly, you need to take care of a couple of things:

  • Keep them in a dark place away from any sources of heat
  • Seal in an airtight container or resealable bag for even better results

If you’re thinking of refrigerating or freezing Brazil nuts, the latter (some sort of airtight packaging) is a must.

Of course, if you leave the nuts on the counter in an open bag for a couple of days or even weeks, not much will happen. Unless they sit next to the stove, they won’t go rancid or anything. But keeping them there for a prolonged period will shorten their shelf life drastically.

Because of that, if you buy Brazil nuts from the bulk containers in a supermarket, choose a place with high turnover. The storage conditions in most supermarkets usually aren’t that good (transparent containers, always open), so they might not last as long as you’d like.

Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and Macadamias side by side
Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and Macadamias side by side

In a Nutshell

  • Brazil nuts last 6 to 12 months in the pantry, at least a year in the fridge and even longer when frozen
  • For best quality, store them in a cool and dark place in an airtight container or bag
  • Throw out any moldy, discolored, or rancid nuts

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