Do Cashews Go Bad? – Full Analysis

by Charlie

Cashews taste good and are an inexpensive snack with a lot of nutritional value. When looking at a package, can, or bottle of cashews it is hard to tell if they have gone bad or not.

Do cashews go bad or do they have an unlimited shelf life? Over time, cashews do go bad and not only do they go bad, but they can also turn rancid. This means that they smell and taste bad. They will smell like nail polish or paint and they will have a bitter or sour taste. Cashews should last 6 months.

Why Do Cashews Go Bad?

As with most nuts, cashews are high in oil so that is what causes them to go bad or rancid. They are also without their shell so they do not have any natural protection against things that can cause them to go bad. Some of these things include exposure to air, heat, and sunlight. 

Cashews go bad because the oils and fats are becoming oxidized because the oils are breaking down in the cashews. The oxidation alters the compounds of the fats in cashews and can turn them into harmful compounds. One of these is short-chain fatty acids, which is the real reason that cashews go rancid.

How to Know Your Cashews are Bad?

One of the first things you look for when deciding if your cashews are bad is to see if there are any signs of white mold growth. If there is mold growth, discard the cashews immediately. When they are fresh, they have a creamy taste and pleasant odor but as they get older, they will start to have a brittle consistency and turn a little darker. They may even start to look oily.

Another sign of deterioration is for them to have a shriveled appearance and if they are completely dried out, toss them. The taste test is also a way to see if cashews have gone bad, especially if there is no mold or they do not look dark or shriveled. 

If they are bitter tasting, they are rancid and need to be thrown away. Bad cashews will generally smell acrid, which is a smell between butter and sour. You may also see signs of pest or insect infestations.

Can Cashews be Eaten Past their Expiration Date?

Yes, cashews can be eaten past their expiration date but make sure that they do not have the white mold growth, and do not smell or taste weird. Cashews do not immediately become bad or rancid the day or week after the best-used-by date. And you will not get sick if you eat them past that date as long as they show no signs of being bad. As long as the package is undamaged and they have been stored properly.

How to Store Your Cashews 

  • If you are buying cashews in bulk or smaller portions and they come in a brown bag or plastic package, transfer them to a freezer bag or an airtight container to help minimize exposure to the air.
  • If they come in a resealable can or jar, you can keep the cashews in them, even after opening. 
  • Make sure that you are storing them in a dark cabinet away from any sources of heat.
  • Choose the freezer if you are planning on keeping them for a long time but if it is for a short time, you can store them at room temperature.
  • Never store them in direct heat or sunlight as cashews are sensitive to both of these. If they are exposed to direct sunlight, it will sometimes produce a greenhouse effect, which is when the container produces moisture. This leads to mold growth. The heat will make them rancid faster.
  • Keep them in a container that will keep the moisture out so they will stay crunchy and crisp.
  • For the best flavor, you should eat them within 30 days although they can be kept longer than that. 
  • If you want to leave some cashews out so you can snack on them throughout the day it is okay to leave a couple of days’ worth in a bowl on the counter but put the rest in the pantry or fridge.
  • If you live in a hot climate, they will go stale faster so store them in the fridge.

Refrigerator 

When you are storing them in the refrigerator, make sure that they are sealed tightly. They are hygroscopic, which means that they can easily soak up moisture. They can also pick up strong odors from the foods in the refrigerator.

Freezer

When you freeze cashews you want to make sure they are well protected in freezer bags or airtight containers. Squeeze as much air out of the bags as you can before you seal the bag. You can also use the original container but it needs to be freezer friendly and tightly sealed.

How Long Do Cashews Last – Shelf Life? [Chart]

When discussing shelf life, this means how long cashews can last before they go rancid and lose their creamy taste. The actual shelf life will vary between manufacturers and sellers but it generally falls between 6 to 12 months unless it is put in the freezer.

Type of CashewPantryRefrigeratorFreezer
UnopenedBest-by-date + 1 monthN/AOver 12 months
Opened2 weeks4 weeksOver 12 months
Raw1 month6 monthsUp to 12 months

Cooking With Cashews

  • Toast for a snack: You can roast them with brown sugar, rosemary, salt, or make your own blend of spicy, salty, or sweet for a great snack.
  • Puree into butter: Raw and roasted cashews both make an excellent nut butter that you can use instead of peanut butter. You can also make at home, homemade cashew butter without sweeteners. You can use this spread as a substitute for cheese or cream in your dairy-free recipes
  • Cashew Chicken: This is a Chinese-American dish of roasted cashews that are coated in a sweet brown sauce with chicken. 
  • Add to fried rice or stir-fries: The chopped cashews will add a nice textural component.

Conclusion

  • These are nuts that are produced by the cashew tree and are referred to as nut seeds. 
  • Fresh cashews should have a slightly sweet, creamy flavor
  • When you purchase cashews they will always be without shells.
  • The reason that you will always find them shelled is that the outer shell contains a toxic oil, which can produce food poisoning if ingested and irritations on the skin.
  • The shelled cashew nuts are cooked or roasted in some way to burn off any stray shells that might be left on them so they are safe to eat.
  • They will go bad faster if they are kept at a warm temperature
  • If there is a “best-used-by” date on the package, use that as a reference point when figuring how long the cashews will be good for if frozen, put in the fridge, or stored in the pantry.
  • If your cashews are rancid or bad, throw them away because if you eat them, they can cause food poisoning.
  • When buying cashews, it is advisable to buy the ones that are prepackaged and not in those bins that some supermarkets have where you can scoop out as much as you want. These cashews are not stored correctly and are exposed to light most of the time, and air when they are open and shut many times. This will shorten their shelf life and it is hard to say how long they will be good for before going rancid.

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