Bought some almonds from the bulk bins in the supermarket, and not sure when you need to eat them, so they don’t lose quality? How long do almonds last?
Or maybe there’s a bag of “expired” almonds in the back of a cupboard, but you’re quite sure they’re still okay. And now you’re in a pickle: should you toss them out or not?
In this article, I’m going to answer these and other questions related to shelf life, storage, and going bad of almonds. If that’s what you’re looking for, let’s dive in.
How Long Do Almonds Last?
Before I cover what reputable sources have to say about the shelf life of almonds, let me share a personal example.
At the time of writing this piece, I have a package of shelled almonds that’s nine months past the date on the label. And the nuts are still quite alright (I ate a bunch last week). Sure, they aren’t as tasty as fresh ones, but they are good enough. And if your almonds need a taste boost, you can always roast them (more on that later).
When it comes to storage, I keep them in a resealable pouch they came in, in a dark cabinet in the kitchen. The nuts sat there the entire hot summer, too.
So yeah, almonds can last quite some time, even at room temperature. That’s partially thanks to the antioxidants they have (AM), which slow down the processes responsible for quality loss.
When it comes to those reputable sources I mentioned, FoodKeeper App (FK) suggests that:
- unshelled almonds keep for half a year in the pantry, 16 months in the fridge, and 20 months in the freezer
- shelled almonds last four months in the pantry, eight months in the refrigerator, and ten if frozen
As you can tell, in my experience, the shelf life of almonds is a “bit” longer than that. Of course, the provided dates are for the best quality, and my almost ancient almonds aren’t top-notch in that area. But they are good enough, at least to my taste buds.
Long story short, the estimates given by the FoodKeeper App, and those on labels of packaged almonds, are for best quality. If you’re okay with some quality loss, almonds can last months past their dates, even at room temperature.
One caveat here: if you live in the tropics where it’s hot almost all year round, almonds definitely won’t last as long at room temp. If you need to store them for the long term, go with cold storage.
How To Store Almonds
Let’s start with a couple of guidelines when it comes to almond storage. For these nuts to last the longest, you should:
- avoid exposure to strong smells, as almonds readily absorb them (AM, BDI)
- keep them away from direct sunlight (AM, BDI)
- protect from insects and pests (AM)
- protect from oxygen exposure, especially if they are roasted (AM)
Knowing that, let’s talk about implementing those suggestions.
No matter where you plan on keeping the almonds, an airtight container or a freezer bag is the best option (just like for Brazil nuts). Sometimes almonds already come in resealable pouches (like mine do), and that form of packaging is fine too. With that in place, we’re safe from exposure to smells, insects, and air.
When it comes to places, the fridge and freezer automatically take care of keeping the almonds away from sunlight. If you go with room temperature, choose a dark and dry cabinet or cupboard.
How To Tell If Almonds Have Gone Bad?
When it comes to signs of spoilage, almonds aren’t unique by any means. The same signs you might already know from, e.g., cashews or macadamia nuts, are true for almonds too. That means you should look for:
- shriveled, dried out, or discolored kernels (if it looks terrible, it’s bad)
- insects in the package (might happen, if you tend to have insect issues)
- mold (hard to miss that one)
- almonds being rancid
Rancid almonds sometimes smell off (bitter, paint-like, or something else that isn’t nut-like), but a more common sign is altered taste. If yours taste harsh and bitter, they’re rancid.
If neither of the signs is present, the almonds are most likely fine. If they taste a bit stale or the crunch you’re looking for isn’t quite there, there’s a solution to that, and it’s called roasting.
How To Roast Almonds
Roasting is a popular method of freshening many nuts, and for some, it does wonders. For almonds, you need to take special care when roasting, so they don’t turn unsafe to eat.
That’s because a harmful substance called acrylamide is formed in almonds when they’re heated above 266°F (130°C) (HL). Fortunately, minimizing the risk is as easy as keeping the roasting temperature low.
Here’s how to roast almonds (HL):
- Preheat the oven to 266°F (130°C).
- Roast the shelled almonds in a single layer for 15-20 minutes.
- Let the nuts cool before eating.
In case you’re freaking out about acrylamide, if you adhere to the guidelines above, there’s no need to worry. And even if some acrylamide forms, the amount will be much lower than what’s considered to be harmful ([HL]).