Pecans belong to the hickory species. This is a native fruit for northern Mexico, but it’s grown in the southern United States, too.
It’s grown mostly in New Mexico, Georgia, and Texas. Mexico makes around half of the world’s annual demand for pecans, though.
Pecans are a great fruit. They add a certain flavor to a meal, be it a main dish or dessert – pecans can be added to pretty much anything you like. Everyone’s heard of pecan pie, which is a dessert (obviously).
However nice, pecans can be a bit expensive. This is especially true if the recipe calls for a lot of pecans, for example, half a pound of pecans.
So, if you’re looking to save some money on groceries, you’re looking to buy in bulk whatever you can. Sure, you can stock up on food items that have a long shelf life, but what about pecans?
Do pecans go bad? How much time do you have to finish your stock of pecans? Continue reading to find out all about the shelf life and storage of pecans!
Do Pecans Go Bad?
Whether pecans have a shelf life is important information. You need to know this so you can figure out if buying pecans in bulk is a good idea or not. So, do pecans go bad?
Like most food items, pecans can go bad. All fruit can go bad, and pecans are no different.
But, why do pecans go bad? Because pecans are rich in saturated fatty acids, they can go bad due to a magical process called rancidity.
Rancidity is a type of oxidation. When fatty acids are exposed to a certain amount of air, or oxygen to be exact, they start to degrade and become rancid.
Nobody wants this to happen to their pecans, because pecans are rather expensive and them turning rancid can result in a huge money loss. Imagine buying a pound of pecans and having to throw them out.
Awful, right? So, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your pecans are always fresh when you need them.
Firstly, keep in mind the shelf life. Secondly – follow our advice about storage and the instructions printed on the bag for the best results!
The Shelf Life Of Pecans
Shelf life is an important thing to factor in. Sure, you may buy two pounds of pecans at a discounted price, but what if you can’t go through it all in time?
Doesn’t seem so fun, right? So, how long do pecans last?
The first thing that affects shelf life is whether the pecans are packaged in-shell or shelled. If the pecans in question are in-shell, they will last much longer.
The reason behind that is that they have a shell that keeps air away from the pecan. After all, the main reason why pecans go bad is air exposure.
So, if you buy the pecans prepackaged, they usually have a best-by, or a best-before date printed on the label. The best-by date is something of a manufacturer’s guarantee that the food in question will remain at peak quality up to the printed date.
After that date passes, the food may degrade in quality, or even go bad. On the other hand, it may remain unchanged for a while past the printed date.
So, pecans won’t go bad right past the best-by date. That will virtually never happen. The in-shell pecans will stay fresh for around three months past that date, and shelled pecans will stay fresh for at least a month.
However, you can buy the pecans in bulk, and all they come with is the brown paper bag. For this type of pecans, there are only estimates of how long they have before they go bad.
Be careful about this type of pecans, because there is no definite period before they go bad.
For these unpackaged pecans, the shelf life is determined by the storage – area they stored at room temperature, in the fridge, or in the freezer.
In-shell pecans stored at room temperature will keep fresh for a good while – somewhere between six months and a year. And if you choose to keep them in the fridge, they will last for somewhere around a year and a half.
In the freezer, the pecans last the longest. You can enjoy fresh pecans from the freezer even two years later!
Shelled pecans have a shorter shelf life than we already mentioned. Air exposure simply gets to them too fast compared to the in-shell pecans.
Shelled pecans kept at room temperature will keep fresh for around two months, more or less. If they’re kept refrigerated, the pecans will be perfectly safe to consume for eight to nine months.
If that simply doesn’t seem long enough, you can always toss them in the freezer. Frozen pecans will keep fresh for up to two years!
Storage Tips And Tricks
Storage is key to maintaining the freshness of most food ingredients. Incorrect storage can affect the food in a way that the food will go bad way before its time.
To avoid a nasty surprise like your food going bad at the worst possible moment, try to abide by the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding storage. After all, they do know the best way to store a product they made.
We already talked about possible places to store pecans. The pecans can be stored at room temperature, in the fridge, and in the freezer.
It’s entirely up to you to figure out what works best for you. We can only advise you how to do it right, no matter the storage place.
Let’s talk about storing pecans at room temperature first. This is not the ideal place, because pecans don’t last very long at room temperature, compared to any other place.
However, if you’re set on storing them this way, it’s fine. If the pecans are prepackaged, yall you have to do is find a suitable place – dry and away from sources of heat and light. Exposure to light can also affect the quality of your nuts.
If you bought them in bulk, we recommend that you transfer them into something better. A ziplock bag, airtight container, or a glass jar all work like a charm.
If the place that works the best for you is the fridge – yay! This is the best place to store pecans if you ask us. Just make sure that you keep unopened bags in the fridge. If you open the bag transfer the remains into something that closes tightly.
When it comes to freezing pecans, it’s ideal if you bought too much and there is no possible way to finish them in time. Even if the bag is unopened, transfer the pecans into a freezer-safe bag or container.
This is the best way to save the pecans until a moment to use them comes along. Pecans don’t lose taste or texture, even if they’re frozen for a good while. They can even be frozen multiple times, and it won’t affect the taste in any way!
How To Tell If The Pecans Have Gone Bad
If it’s been a while since you bought the pecans, they may have gone bad, or better yet, rancid.
How can you check that? Read this section carefully to learn how to check the freshness of your nuts.
First, check out the shell. If you see small holes in it, chances are that some bugs got to your pecans before you did, so it’s best to throw them in the trash.
The same thing is if you spot any mold, mildew, or fuzz on the shell or even the pecan. There is no way around it, you have to throw it out!
If you open the shell and see the pecan has shriveled in size or dried out, there is no way to save it. You have to discard them.
As we already said, pecans go bad due to rancidity. Rancidity is fairly easy to spot, but it cannot be seen, only smelled or tasted.
If your pecans smell like old paint, or they have an unpleasant smell, they have gone rancid. The same deal is if the pecans taste nothing like nutty goodness. If they taste bitter or sour, toss them out!
Do Pecans Go Bad? – Conclusion
To conclude, pecans can go bad – and they will likely go bad at the worst possible moment. For example, you’re rushing to make dessert for guests? The pecans have gone rancid.
Luckily, pecans have a pretty long shelf life. If they don’t last long enough for your needs at room temperature, you can toss them in the freezer.
In the freezer, pecans stay fresh for around two years. Just make sure to freeze them in a freezer bag or container for the best results!
Storage is pretty simple for pecans. Just limit their exposure to air and natural light, and they stay fresh for long. Pantry, fridge, or the freezer – doesn’t matter, they all work fine for this type of nuts.
If you’re worried your pecans have gone bad – examine them and do a small sniff and taste test. If the pecans look, smell, and taste like pecans – they’re perfectly safe to use! Enjoy!