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Do Macadamia Nuts Go Bad? Macadamias Shelf Life and Spoilage

Today we’ll cover the shelf life, storage, and spoilage of macadamia nuts.

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

If that brought you here, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll talk about how long macadamia nuts last, how you should store them, and how to tell if they’re okay to eat or spoiled.

Let’s dive right in.

Table of Contents

Macadamias with shells on
Macadamias with shells on

Do Macadamia Nuts Go Bad?

Macadamia nuts can go bad, and the most common way they spoil is by going rancidRancidity happens when the nuts are stored for too long or in poor conditions.

You can tell your macadamias are rancid when you notice they start to taste sharp and bitter. They might also develop a smell similar to putty or nail polish remover, but that’s not always easily noticeable.

In other words, you usually need to taste a nut or two to learn if they’re rancid or not.

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

Now, going rancid is a process that takes weeks, if not months, so it’s not like your macadamias will be nice and buttery one day and bitter the next day. There’s a spectrum of flavors, and you need to decide at which point the nuts aren’t good enough to eat.

The good news is that rancid nuts aren’t unsafe to eat, so eating one or two to learn if they’ve gone bad won’t get you in trouble. But consuming a whole pack of rancid macs isn’t a good idea either, as they aren’t particularly good for you.

Of course, rancidification isn’t the only possible reason you might need to toss your macadamia nuts. There are a couple of others too.

Macadamias in a white bowl
Macadamias in a white bowl

How to Tell if Macadamia Nuts Are Bad?

Signs of spoilage for macadamias include:

  • Rancidity. The most common reason nuts are not fit for consumption anymore.
  • Mold in the package. That’s possible if the nuts have picked up moisture while in storage. If you follow good storage practices (outlined in the storage section), chances of mold growth are minimal.
  • Pantry bugs in the bag. Pantry bugs love dry foods such as sugar or flour but don’t mind nuts either. If bugs, larvae, or insect corpses are in the bag, get rid of the macs. And check nearby foods for insects too.

What if your macadamias don’t smell quite like they used to but aren’t rancid either?

If that’s the case, look for other causes. For example, maybe you’ve kept them in an open container near foods that give off a strong smell?

Shelled nuts readily absorb smells, so that’s quite probable.

Now, what if your macadamia nuts aren’t spoiled, but taste kind of meh?

Using Stale Macadamias

Macadamia nuts going stale isn’t the end of the world. There are still a couple of ways you can use them. Some examples include:

  • Roasting them. Roasting nuts is the tried and tested way to bring out more flavor and help freshen old nuts a bit. You can even add some spices to adjust their flavor even further. Here’s a guide to get you started.
  • Making nut butter. If you’re into nut butters (think peanut butter, almond butter, and to some extent Nutella), making your own using macadamias is an option. Of course, since the nuts taste stale, I suggest being liberal with spices and maybe even sweetening the whole thing a bit.
  • Folding them into baked goods. Almost any baked good could benefit from some roughly chopped nuts. Add the macs when the batter is ready, give it a quick swirl, and get baking.
  • Toping desserts. Top your store-bought plain ice cream with some chopped macadamias for extra flavor. If you’re worried the nuts will spoil the whole thing, do a test tun with a tablespoon of ice cream topped with a sliver or two.
  • Making a salad. All the flavors in salads tend to blend together, so you probably won’t notice that the nuts you used were stale, but they’ll still add a nice crunch. For best results, choose a recipe that calls for macadamias.

Last but not least, roasting stale macadamias is always a good idea, whether you want to eat them as a snack, blend them into nut butter, or chop and add to something you bake.

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

How Long Do Macadamia Nuts Last?

Shelled macadamia nuts last about 5 months at room temperature, 12 months in the fridge, and more than 2 years in the freezer. In-shell macadamias keep about 25-50% longer, which means more than half a year at ambient temperature and more than a year in the fridge.

Of course, if the temperature where you store your macs is way more than 68°F (20°C), they might not keep for the whole five months. Same thing if you don’t seal them tight or leave them in direct sunlight.

If you need even more time than the mentioned periods, you can freeze macadamias. More on that in a moment.

Now, the periods above are only rough guidelines. The same is true for any date printed on the label of bagged macadamia nuts. These aren’t expiration dates but rather educated guesses on how much it might take before the nuts rapidly lose quality.

In other words, you shouldn’t pay that much attention to the best-by date on the label. Instead, base your decision on whether the macs are safe to eat or not on their quality.

The best the printed date could do for you is to inform you: “hey, these are quite old, so they might taste stale or even be rancid already.” But you won’t know for sure until you actually check them for signs of spoilage.

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

How to Store Macadamia Nuts

Store macadamia nuts sealed tight and in a cool and dry area. A resealable container or freezer bag are both great options.

If you know you’ll finish the nuts within a couple of months, leaving them at room temperature is okay. Otherwise, it’s better to refrigerate them.

The gist of macadamia storage is to protect the nutmeat (or kernel) from the following:

  • moisture
  • excess air
  • sunlight
  • hot temperature

It might seem like a lot, but it’s not that difficult.

In-Shell Macadamia Nuts

If you buy in-shell macadamias, the shells protect the kernels from sunlight and excess air. That means you only need to ensure that unshelled macs sit away from moisture and in a cold place.

A ventilated bag or a container without a lid in a pantry cupboard or on a shelf is usually good enough for that. Or you can transfer the nuts into a sealed bag or container and refrigerate if you need more time.

Shelled Macadamia Nuts

For shelled macadamias, you need to keep them well sealed, and that’s why an airtight container or plastic bag is a must. If the nuts aren’t sealed, they get free access to air, which speeds up rancidification.

If you decide to leave them at ambient temperature, find a spot that’s cold and away from sunlight. For example, a pantry cupboard is typically a much better choice than leaving the macs on the counter.

And if it’s the middle of a hot summer and the temperature where you store your macadamias is much higher than 68°F (20°C), consider refrigeration. Otherwise, your macadamias might turn rancid within a month or two.

When refrigerating macadamia nuts, make sure they’re sealed tight. This prevents the nuts from absorbing any moisture and smells, and helps them retain quality for longer.

Last, if you want to never bother about macs going rancid, you can freeze them. Let’s talk about how.

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

Can You Freeze Macadamia Nuts?

You can successfully freeze macadamias for the long term, and that’s the recommended storage option if you want to prolong the shelf life of these nuts as much as you can.

The procedure is as simple as it gets and takes only a minute or two to get done.

Here’s how to freeze macadamia nuts:

  1. Transfer macadamias to a freezer bag.
  2. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Add a label with the name and date if you find that helpful.
  3. Put the bag in the freezer.

That’s all there is to it.

(You can use the exact same process to freeze other nuts, including freezing almonds and brazil nuts.)

Wondering how long you can freeze macadamias?

Frozen nuts last for more than two years without much quality loss if they’re sealed well. They could probably keep without any issues for much longer, but nobody bothered testing that.

I mean, two years is quite a long time, and unless your macs get lost in the freezer, you’ll surely use them by then.

When you’re ready to use the nuts, allow them to defrost on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour before you prepare them. And chuck any leftovers back in the freezer if you take out too many.

Macadamia Nuts Shelf Life and Spoilage Summary

Thank you for reading this guide on macadamias. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Going rancid is the most likely reason your macadamia nuts will go bad. The nuts go rancid if stored for too long or in bad conditions. Macadamias could also be infested by pantry bugs or grow mold, but rancidification is the most likely culprit.
  • You can tell your macadamia nuts are rancid when they start to taste harsh and bitter. They might also smell like old paint or putty, but the odor change isn’t always easily discernible.
  • Shelled macadamia nuts last about 5 months at room temperature or a year in the fridge. Unshelled macs keep for a month or two longer if left at ambient temperature or more than a year if refrigerated. Both keep for more than 2 years in the freezer.
  • You can store unshelled macadamia nuts in a ventilated bag or container in the pantry, or in a sealed container or bag in the fridge. Shelled macadamias need a tight seal, no matter if you refrigerate them or not.