Peanuts are moreish. You can find yourself getting through hundreds of them a day. In fact, there are about 540 peanuts in a jar of peanut butter.
But you’re probably not here because you ate your way through all your peanuts.
You’re here because you’ve found an old bag and not sure if they’re off, or you’ve bought in bulk and are wondering how long they’ll last.
Today, we’ll be looking at the storage options for peanuts, how long they last, and how to tell if they’re off.
In a nutshell (not a pun, because peanuts are legumes, not nuts!): The easiest way to tell if your peanuts are bad is through smell and taste – nibbling on a rancid peanut will be unpleasant but you’re unlikely to get sick. If you’ve bought in bulk, your peanuts will last the longest in the freezer.
How To Tell If Peanuts Have Gone Bad
Peanuts don’t go bad like eggplant or cucumber go bad. They’re unlikely to get visible signs of mold or really deteriorate. Instead, they turn “rancid”.
Rancid: A term for when oils and fats in food get oxidized when exposed to air. A food item is “rancid” when there is a change in smell, taste, or appearance due to this oxidation.
Here are some surefire signs that your peanuts are ready for the bin:
- A shriveled or dried up kernel/seed
- Mold, though this is unlikely unless your peanuts are months old or have been stored in warm, humid conditions
- A foul, chemical, sour, or otherwise unusual smell
- A bitter, sour, or unusual taste. Don’t worry, eating one or two rancid peanuts probably won’t make you sick – but don’t make it part of your routine!
How To Store Peanuts
How you should store your peanuts depends on a handful of different factors:
- How long you need your peanuts to last. Purchasing unshelled peanuts and freezing them can prolong the life of your peanuts.
- Whether you have unshelled or shelled peanuts. Unshelled peanuts last way longer.
- Whether you have fridge space.
- Whether you have freezer space.
- Whether you have a dark, dry, cool pantry
If you live in a cold part of the world, or you just happen to have a cool cellar or temperature-controlled pantry, then storing peanuts is simple.
Ideally, you want your unshelled peanuts to sit in a well-ventilated bag in a room with a temperature of around 37°F, or 3°C. Be sure to portion out different batches, so that if one bag spoils, the rest are safe.
You can also store shelled peanuts in a cool, dry, dark room, but not for very long.
In the event that there’s no reliably cool place in your house, then you can leave shelled or unshelled peanuts at room temperature, ideally in a dark, dry place like a cupboard. However, expect the warmth to speed up the aging process.
Not going to get through all your peanuts within a few weeks, and don’t have a cold pantry? No worries. Just put your peanuts in a freezer bag or airtight container, and pop them in the fridge or freezer for extended shelf life.
Don’t forget! If you’re keeping your peanuts in the fridge, particularly if they’re already shelled, then make sure to go in every few weeks and wipe any condensation out of the Tupperware or bag. Moisture will encourage your peanuts to decay.
Finally, any non-plain peanuts – like roasted, seasoned, or flavored peanuts – should always be kept in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer, as the seasoning can promote decay.
How Long Do Peanuts Last?
How long your peanuts last depend on the storage method you choose, storage conditions, whether the peanuts are shelled or unshelled, and many other factors.
Peanuts with their shell still intact last longer, because their seeds are protected, so quality is easier to maintain.
Shelled peanuts are more vulnerable, which is why you’re more likely to see dried or shriveled kernels.
Here’s a handy table to work out how long your peanuts should last.
|Shelled Peanuts||In-Shell Peanuts|
|Dark, dry room||4 weeks||4 months|
|Dark, cold, dry room||2-4 months||6-9 months|
|Fridge||12 months||12 months|
|Freezer||24 months||24 months|
So, Do Peanuts Go Bad?
Well, not really. Or at least not very often.
But they do go rancid, so you should watch out for nasty smells and bitter tastes.