Pecans are an excellent choice for a healthy snack, but they can be pricey so getting the most out of them is essential. To that end, it is good to know how long pecans will last before they go bad.
Pecans, if they are stored properly, can last 6 months under the right conditions. The main factor in determining how long pecans will last is the plant oil inside the nuts, since natural oils like these tend to become rancid in hot or moist environments. Since a pecan’s shell can help protect these oils, shelled pecans will generally last longer than unshelled pecans.
Do Pecans Go Bad? How Long Do Pecans Last?
Pecans can go bad very easily if they are not stored properly, so if you want to get the most out of pecans you will need to know how to preserve them.
How Long Do Pecans Last Outside
Pecans will go bad quickly if exposed to warmth, moisture, or open air, so they should be stored in a sealed container or bag whenever you are not actively eating them.
With their shells, pecans can last up to a year in this state provided they are somewhere cool and dry, but unshelled pecans will usually only last six months at most so you need to watch them more carefully.
Given how long they can last in good condition you should label any containers with pecans in them to know how long you have had them and when they might start going bad.
How Long Do Pecans Last in the Fridge
While shelled pecans generally have a longer shelf life than unshelled pecans when it comes to the pantry or freezer, they actually last significantly less time in the refrigerator
Unshelled pecans can last up to a year in the refrigerator while shelled pecans will only last around 9 months at most under the same conditions, so you need to keep this difference in mind when buying pecans.
Why this happens is not understood, but if you are looking to store pecans long term and buy shelled pecans you should focus on freezing them instead of refrigerating them since they last much longer that way.
How Long Do Pecans Last in the Freezer
When stored in a freezer, pecans can easily last up to two years, with in-shell pecans being able to last five years in the freezer as long as you handle them carefully.
Pecans can be damaged if they are not properly frozen, thawed, and refrozen, so be sure to handle freezing pecans with care so you don’t accidentally ruin your food.
One way to get more life out of frozen pecans and to help them last longer as a whole is to store them in small, individual containers so you can thaw them out in small groups instead of all at once.
You can easily get a few years out of pecans as long as you store them properly in a cold, dark, dry environment where they won’t go rancid.
How To Tell If Pecans Has Gone Bad / How To Know Pecans is Fresh
There are a variety of physical clues that can tell you if a container of pecans has gone bad, all of which you should know if you are keeping pecans long term. If you find any pecans in your container that have one or more of these traits you should not eat any of them and throw out the pecans as soon as possible.
Dryness. If your pecans have gone dry that means the oils in the nuts have dried up and they will soon go rancid, so you should not eat any of them. Without their natural oils, pecans start to become stale and tough since those oils kept them hydrated and fresh, so a good sign that your pecans are bad is them being dry.
Bitterness. Another sign that your pecans are bad, even if they look and feel fresh, is the nuts developing a strong bitter or sour taste. When the oil in a nut goes rancid it becomes bitter and this seeps into the rest of the nut, causing it to taste horribly, meaning that any pecans with a bitter flavor have gone bad.
Mold. The most obvious sign that any food has gone bad is the development of mold, fungus, or other outside growths on the surface. This is true with pecans as well, and even if only one or two pecans in a container show physical signs of mold the rest might still be infested with spores and unseen growths so you should always throw out moldy pecans.
How to Store Pecans?
There are two main factors to keep in mind when storing pecans, the container you are storing them in and the climate you are putting that container in. Pecans will not last long in the open air or when exposed to heat and moisture, so you need to make sure your container is tightly sealed and your environment is dark and cool.
Containers. For room temperature storage look for tightly sealed bags and plasticware containers that will keep moisture and air out. If you plan on refrigerating or freezing your pecans, however, then you should use freezer bags since they are designed to survive cold temperatures and are easier to store.
Locations. If you want to keep pecans at room temperature look for cool, dark, dry places like in a pantry, cupboard, or drawer where they will get minimal heat and moisture. If you intend to freeze or refrigerate your pecans then try to store them away from open shelves or lights, like in a veggie crisper.
Can You Freeze Pecans? How?
Pecans can be frozen for long term storage, but if you plan on doing this, you’ll need to store them carefully in order to preserve them. Improperly freezing pecans can cause damage to the nuts, making them go bad faster than if they were left out, so you need to know the best way to freeze pecans.
Get airtight, freezer safe containers. The best way to freeze pecans is in small batches with freezer safe containers like plasticware or bags. Not only will the container protect the pecans from freezer burn, but using many small containers will let you defrost small amounts of pecans as needed instead of constantly defrosting and refreezing one large container.
Keep the pecans in the freezer until they set. When you are freezing pecans, keep them in the freezer for a few days to make totally sure the pecans freeze all the way through. If you take them out early or often, they may not freeze completely and this can cause the nuts to go bad, even in the freezer.
How to Thaw Pecans?
The best way to thaw pecans is to temper them by storing them at 36 to 47 degrees Fahrenheit before you try to bring them down to room temperature.
Sudden changes in temperature can damage pecans and prevent them from fully thawing or thawing correctly, so you need to take your time when defrosting pecans.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pecans’ Shelf Life
While it is important to know how to store pecans, there are a lot of other questions you can ask about the shelf-life, preparation, and use of pecans in the kitchen. Pecans can be difficult to work with in or out of the shell and so the more you know about how to work with them, the better.
How to tell if pecans in the store are fresh? When you are going out to buy pecans you can’t always take the time to sample them and see if they are fresh. Fresh pecans will have a plump, full appearance with a glossy coat and a similar color across all the nuts, so any pecans lacking these traits are less fresh.
What is the best way to shell pecans? There are many ways to crack a pecan’s shell, but the best way to open a pecan is to initially soften the shell by boiling the pecans for 10 minutes. Once the pecans are done boiling and cool off, use a nut cracker or another tool to open the nuts safely.
Pecans are a great snack for any diet, but unless you know how to store them properly, they will go bad fast. Be sure to put your pecans in an airtight container, either in a cold, dry pantry, a refrigerator, or a freezer.