You’ve bought a bunch of cashew nuts from the bulk bins in the supermarket. Then you got home and realized you’re not sure how long do cashews last.
Or perhaps there’s a big sale going, and you’d like to stock up on cashews. The issue is, you don’t know how much you can buy, so the nuts don’t go bad before your family can go through all of them.
Either way, you need to know what’s the approximate shelf life of cashews, and how to store them, so they last the longest. Knowing how to tell good cashews from spoiled ones would be useful as well.
This article covers all of these topics. If that’s what you’re looking for, read on.
How Long Do Cashews Last?
Cashews are always sold shelled, and the shelling is often done by roasting them ([HL]). Because most roasted nuts lose quality faster than fresh ones, you might assume the shelf life of cashews isn’t particularly long. Fortunately, that’s not the case.
According to the University of California (UCAN), cashews last about six months at room temperature, and about 12 months in the fridge. That’s similar to what I’ve seen on labels of pre-packaged cashews in supermarkets.
Please note that the bulk bins in supermarkets aren’t the ideal place for storing cashews. The containers are often unsealed and under lights. Because of that, you should assume that the cashews you’re buying there might not retain their quality for the full half a year at room temp. Same thing if the turnover isn’t high.
Of course, if you live in the tropics where it’s warm all year round, you also shouldn’t assume cashews will keep quality for that long if you don’t refrigerate them.
For pre-packaged cashews, check the date on the label, and use it as a starting point. The nuts won’t magically spoil or go stale a day or week past that date, but the longer you wait, the worse quality you should expect.
That being said, if you do a decent job at storing cashews (more on that in the next section), the nuts can easily retain flavor for even a couple of months past their date.
How To Store Cashew Nuts?
For me, the default place for cashews (or walnuts, pine nuts, or pistachios), is a cabinet in the kitchen. My fridge and freezer are usually full of food products that actually require refrigeration, and nuts stay tasty for long enough without refrigeration.
For short-term storage (like up to two weeks), I leave cashews in a well-ventilated bag (the same I put them to in the supermarket) on the counter. This way, they’re readily available for snacking, and I’m sure they won’t be forgotten. The adage out of sight, out of mind is true in case of nuts, at least for me.
For long-term storage, I go with an airtight container (or a resealable freezer bag) in a dry and dark cabinet. That’s because cashews are hygroscopic, which means they pick up moisture and smells from the atmosphere (SC). Plus them having free access to fresh air speeds up rancidity and going stale.
Should you keep cashews in the refrigerator? Well, if you need to keep them for as long as possible, then sure. Refrigeration lengthens their shelf life. You can even freeze them to make them last even longer. But if you’re an average cashew nuts consumer (like I am), who buys enough for a couple of weeks of snacking, cold storage isn’t needed.
If you decide to go with the fridge or freezer, make sure the nuts are in an airtight container or freezer bag. If you go with the bag, remove as much air as you can before sealing it. It takes a few seconds but helps the cashews keep quality for a bit longer.
Now that you know how to store cashews, let’s talk about how to tell good from spoiled ones.
How To Tell If Cashews Have Gone Bad?
In terms of going bad, cashews are no different from other nuts. When checking if yours are still edible, look for the following:
- insects (possible if you have insect issues in your pantry)
- dried out, discolored nuts
Not sure how to tell if cashews are rancid or not? It’s easy. Look for changes in smell (paint-like, chemical odor), or bitter taste. If instead of the gentle nuttiness your cashews have a distinct bitterness, that’s a sure sign they’re rancid.
If the nuts seem fine, but a bit stale and the taste lacking, you can roast them to bring back some of the flavors, or add new ones.
How To Roast Cashews
For starters, consider using a spice mix when roasting. That can bring some extra flavor to the nuts, and who knows, you might as well find an even tastier version of cashews. There are dozens of recipes online, so you can easily find some interesting ones.
Less than 20% of fats in cashews are of the polyunsaturated kind (ND, which makes these nuts relatively safe to roast. And even if you keep them for too long, or use too high temperature, that won’t do much damage.
That said, here’s what Healthline (HL) suggests when it comes to safely roasting nuts:
- keep the temperature low, preferably between 248–284°F (120–140°C)
- roast for approximately 15 minutes, to keep vitamin loss to a minimum