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Can Cashews Go Bad?

You’ve found a rogue bag of cashews stored away in the pantry or fridge. There’s no date on the label, and the nuts seem to be okay. Can cashews go bad?

Or maybe there’s a package with a date on it. And it’s already a month or two past that date. The issue is, the nuts look as good as new. Should you discard “expired” cashews for safety purposes, or can you still eat them?

Read on for answers to these and more questions related to spoilage, shelf life, and storage of cashews.

Cashews and spices in a bowl
(credit: Jenn Kosar)

Can Cashews Go Bad? How To Tell If Cashews Are Bad?

First things first, cashews surely go bad. The signs they show are similar to other nuts (e.g., macadamia or pine nuts).

If yours exhibit any of the following signs, they are spoiled:

  • dried out, discolored kernels (off looks usually mean the nut is gone)
  • mold in the package (like with almost all other foods)
  • rancid nuts: paint-like chemical or bitter smell, or a harsh, bitter taste (if they taste terrible, discard them)

If your cashews are free from all of the above, chances are they are okay to eat. That’s true if they’re a couple of weeks or even months past their date too.

Of course, if you’ve stored the nuts in questionable conditions (warm temperature, in sunlight), and you’re not quite sure they’re fit for consumption, discard them. When in doubt, throw them out.

Cashews on a white plate
(credit: Syed Hussaini)

How Long Do Cashews Last?

One of the sources I often reference is the FoodKeeper app (FK). At the time of writing this article it gives us the following info for cashews:

2 – 4 weeks if pantry stored
6 months when stored in the refrigerator
12 months if stored frozen

As you can tell, the shelf life given by the FoodKeeper app for room temperature storage is super short. That doesn’t go well with the fact that cashews are often sold in bulk bins in supermarkets.

If the given estimate were correct, in many supermarkets the cashews would be downright spoiled. And as you and I know, that’s not the case.

Bunch of cashews
(credit: Maja Vujic)

Fortunately, the University of California comes to the rescue. They recommend (UCANR) the following:

  • 6 months at 68°F (20°C)
  • 12 months in the fridge

That seems much more accurate. I often see bagged cashews with use-by periods ranging between 6 months and a year, with no requirement of refrigerating them.

Long story short, if you keep cashews at room temp, they should keep quality for about half a year, maybe a bit longer. If you go with the fridge, they should last at least a year. If that’s not enough, freezing them is the way to go.

If there’s a date on the label, use it as a reference point. As I already mentioned, the nuts won’t go bad right past that date, but you should expect a loss of quality, and possibly so-so tasting cashews.

Various nuts in a black bowl
(credit: Mgg Vitchakorn)

How To Store Cashews

When it comes to storage, we have all the usual choices: pantry, fridge, and the freezer.

Since cashews always come shelled, the storage practices to follow are the same no matter where you decide to keep them. Here they are:

  • Keep cashews sealed tightly. An airtight container or a freezer bag both are great choices. If going with the latter, squeeze out the air before sealing.
  • Store them in a dark place and cool place. The fridge and freezer already take care of that. For room temperature storage, choose a dry cabinet that’s away from sources of heat.

If you want the cashews easily accessible to snack on throughout the day, leave a week’s worth in a bowl on the counter, and put the rest in storage.

Based on the shelf life we discussed earlier, cold storage only makes sense if you need to keep cashews around for a prolonged period. And for most of us cashew-eaters, that’s not the case.

Last but not least, if you live in a hot climate, and your cashews kept at room temperature go stale quickly, move them to the fridge.

In a Nutshell

  • Cashews last quite a long time even at room temperature. Cold storage is hardly a necessity.
  • Keep the nuts sealed well, in a cool and dry place away from sunlight.
  • Moldy, dried out, or rancid cashews should be discarded.