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Can Macadamia Nuts Go Bad?

Found some old macadamia nuts stashed away and not sure if they are still fit for consumption? Can macadamia nuts go bad?

Or maybe the macadamias you’ve bought who-knows-when don’t smell the way they used to, and you need to know if you can still eat them.

Either way, it’s time to learn a thing or two about spoilage, shelf life, and storage of macadamia nuts. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re in the right place.

Macadamias with shells on
Macadamias with shells on

Can Macadamia Nuts Go Bad? How To Tell If Macadamias Are Bad?

Like pine nuts or hazelnuts, or all other nuts for that matter, macadamia nuts go bad.

The signs of spoilage are quite the same either. They include:

  • Mold in the package. That’s possible if the nuts have picked up some moisture while in storage.
  • Shriveled, discolored nutmeat. Storing macs for too long, with access to fresh air, or at warm temperatures, will cause that.
  • Rancidity. If your macadamias have a chemical smell that reminds you of paint, or taste bitter, they’re rancid. That’s, again, caused by high temperature, and access to air.

Can rancid nuts be saved? No. While eating them won’t kill you, the damage has been done, and you can’t reverse the process. If yours are rancid, throw them out.

Macadamias in a white bowl
Macadamias in a white bowl

If your macadamias don’t smell quite like they used to, but aren’t rancid, look for other causes. Maybe you’ve kept them in an open container near foods that give off strong smell?

If that’s the case, the nuts aren’t bad per se, but snacking on them might not be the most pleasant experience. That’s because smell plays a vital role in how tasty we find certain foods or dishes.

If the nuts taste a bit stale, or their natural slightly buttery flavor isn’t your jam, you can roast macadamia nuts and add your favorite spices to adjust the flavor to your palate.

Macadamia nuts on a wooden scoop
Macadamia nuts on a wooden scoop

How Long Do Macadamia Nuts Last?

Like with cashews, the FoodKeeper app (FK) gives us a super-short shelf life for storing macadamias at room temperature. Because of that, once again, we’ll go with what the University of California suggests (UCANR). Those guidelines are also quite similar to what you can find on labels of packaged macadamias. Here they are:

  • five months for pantry storage
  • 12 months in the fridge
  • 24 months frozen

In short, room temperature is fine for medium-term storage. If you need yours to last much longer, go with cold storage. And yeah, you can successfully freeze macs for the long-term (USDA).

If your macadamia nuts come pre-packaged, check the date on the label – it’s a good starting point. The nuts can likely keep quality for a couple of extra months at room temp if you take good care of them, but sooner or later, the changes will become noticeable. Again, to keep them fresh for even longer, transfer the nuts to the fridge or even the freezer.

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

How To Store Macadamia Nuts

Macadamias are almost always sold shelled. That’s because the shells are tough to crack (feel free to lookup nutcracker for macs).

Lack of shell means you need to take care of everything that the shell usually does. That is if you want to keep them around for long, of course.

Basically, you need to protect the nutmeat from:

  • moisture
  • excess air
  • sunlight
  • hot temperature

Doing that isn’t that difficult, though.

Nuts topped loaf of bread and a bowl of macadamia nuts
(credit: Taylor Kiser)

For starters, you need an airtight container or a freezer bag. If your macs come in a resealable bag, that works too. Such packaging takes care of protecting the kernels from moisture and air. What’s left is sunlight and hot temperatures.

Those two can be easily checked by placing the nuts in a dark cabinet (if you go with room-temp storage), the fridge, or the freezer.

One more tip before you go. If you use a bag, squeeze out the air before sealing it. That both makes it take less space and limits the nuts exposure to oxygen, which helps with extending the shelf life a bit.

In a Nutshell

  • Throw out moldy, dried out, or rancid macadamia nuts.
  • Macadamias last for at least five months at room temperature, if you store them properly. More if you keep them refrigerated or frozen.
  • Keep the nuts in a an airtight container or freezer bag, in a dark place away from heat sources.