Pumpkin seeds are an easy and healthy way to add important vitamins and minerals to your diet. Although small, each seed is packed with healthy fats that make them a great snack or an excellent addition to things like salads, granola, or even bread.
However, pumpkin seeds usually come in fairly large quantities, yet you’re only likely to use a small amount of them at a time. This begs the question:
Do pumpkin seeds go bad? If so, how long do they last, and how can you prolong their freshness?
Pumpkin seeds are readily available prepackaged, meaning they’ll come with a “best before” or “use by” date.
While it’s obviously best to consume the seeds before this date, they will stay good beyond it as well. Just how long they last depends on how you store them, so read on to find out more.
Signs Pumpkin Seeds Have Turned Rancid
Like most food products, there will be clear signs if pumpkin seeds have gone bad. The most obvious is visible mold appearing on the seeds.
Rancid seeds will also likely give off an unpleasant odor and become discolored – if any of these signs appear, it means the seeds have gone bad and should be tossed out.
Sometimes, pumpkin seeds won’t display any of these signs but could still be bad. If they smell or taste stale or somewhat sour, there’s a good chance they’ve gone off.
While rancid pumpkin seeds won’t necessarily cause you any harm, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard them. Plus, they really won’t taste great.
How To Store Pumpkin Seeds
There are several options when it comes to properly storing pumpkin seeds, and which one you go for depends on how long you want the seeds to last and how often you’ll be using them.
If you’re preparing a batch of the seeds at home, first off, make sure they’re roasted, dried, and then cooled back down to room temperature. Place them in an airtight container or jar and then store this somewhere cool, dry, and away from sources of heat and sunlight.
The advice for a pack of store-bought pumpkin seeds is largely the same; if it’s unopened, keep it somewhere cool, dry, and away from sources of heat and sunlight in your kitchen or pantry.
Due to their high oil content, pumpkin seeds are particularly susceptible to going rancid once they’re exposed to air and heat. Each time you open the pack, the seeds are exposed to these factors and will become rancid more quickly.
If the package they came in is resealable, simply keep the seeds in there and ensure you tightly seal the pack each time you close it. You should also make sure there’s no air inside the pack when you close it.
Alternatively, if the package is not resealable, you should transfer the seeds to a freezer bag or another tightly-sealable container you have on hand, and remember to label it!
If you’re going to be using pumpkin seeds regularly, here’s a handy tip:
Add some of the seeds into a separate, tightly-sealed container. Use the seeds in this container and then refill them from the original package once it’s empty. This way, the seeds in the original package will remain undisturbed for longer periods of time and so will remain fresher for longer.
Furthermore, if you have a batch of pumpkin seeds that you plan to keep for a few months, it might be worth keeping them in the fridge. Storing them in a freezer bag is ideal for this, but any container that can be tightly sealed will do.
Can You Freeze Pumpkin Seeds?
Freezing is a simple and effective way of extending the life of your pumpkin seeds. Just make sure, as ever, that they’re stored in a container that is sealed tightly.
This can be the original package they came in (if it’s resealable), a freezer bag, or a jar. If the pack is unopened, it can go straight into the freezer as it is.
When you want to use the seeds, simply thaw them in the fridge before use, and you’re good to go.
How Long Do Pumpkin Seeds Last?
A homemade batch of pumpkin seeds won’t last as long as a store-bought one; they’ll stay fresh for roughly a week in the pantry when stored correctly. They’ll last for 1 to 2 months if you store them in the fridge.
As mentioned, pumpkin seeds bought from a store will come with a “use by” date, and this is always a good indicator of how long they’ll last, but it’s certainly not set in stone.
An unopened package of store-bought pumpkin seeds will generally stay fresh for 1-3 months beyond the “use by” date.
Once you open the package, the speed at which they become rancid will naturally increase, so how long they last will depend on how you store them.
If stored in your pantry, try to finish the pack within 2 to 3 months. If you store them in your fridge, you’ll have roughly a few months longer to consume them. Pumpkin seeds stored in the freezer can last up to a year.
In Conclusion: Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds generally come in two forms: homemade or store-bought. The former generally don’t last as long as the latter.
It’s best to store your seeds in an airtight container. This could be the package they came in if it’s resealable, or a freezer bag.
If stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, store-bought pumpkin seeds will last a few months beyond their “use by” date and even longer if stored in the fridge.
If they’ve developed mold or a rancid smell, the seeds have gone off and should be discarded.