shell peanuts up close

Peanuts are a popular snack food that may even be in your pantry, but do peanuts go bad? And if so, how can you tell? This article will tell you everything you need to know about types of peanuts, whether they’re going bad, and how to store them safely.

So let’s go nutty!

What Are Peanuts?

Peanuts are a type of nut that grows in the ground. Contrary to popular belief, the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans classify peanuts and peanut butter in the nuts and seeds category. Although peanuts are botanically a legume, either way, nuts and legumes are both nutrient-dense.

How to Store Peanuts

Opt for a cool, dry place for the ideal storage temperature of around  34 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level of 55 to 70 percent (1). The storage location may vary depending on your geographic location.

Shell vs Unshelled

shell peanuts up close

Peanuts come from big, recognizable shells. They can be stored inside or outside their shells, but removing the shells will reduce their shelf life.

Fridge vs Pantry vs Frozen

Storing peanuts in the fridge will help them last longer than storing them at room temperature. The cooler temperature helps keep the oils from rancid, but both methods can work depending on your location.

Do Peanuts Go Bad?

Yes! Peanuts can go bad or rancid. They may not smell horrible or look moldy like other foods. There are some signs you can look out for to tell if you should pass on the nuts.

How to Tell If Peanuts Are Bad

When peanuts go bad, they will develop a sour smell and may taste rancid. The texture may also change and become rubbery or mushy. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the batch of nuts as they are no longer safe to eat.

These are good tips when buying from bulk bins with no expiration date. Dating your items when you get them can also be helpful.

Signs Your Peanuts Have Gone Bad

  • Lacking a nutty flavor
  • A mushier than usual texture
  • They’ve developed a sour taste
  • The shape has changed and appears shriveled up
  • You can visually see mold

How Long Do Peanuts Last?

Peanuts out of their shells have a shorter shelf life and don’t last as long as those in their shells. To prolong their life, you can put them in an airtight container in the fridge.

Need them to last even longer? A freezer is a long-term option.

peanut storage time for do peanuts go bad.

What Happens When You Eat Expired Peanuts

If you eat expired peanuts, you may get a stomach ache, but the likelihood of you eating more than 1 to 2 rancid peanuts is low because they taste awful. Peanuts that have gone bad will also taste rancid and bitter.

So, if your peanuts don’t taste right, it’s probably best to toss them out.

What To Do With Old Peanuts?

To avoid the possibility of them going bad, buy only what you need, not a surplus. For nuts that are a little old but aren’t inedible or unsafe to eat, use them up in new and creative ways!

You could even try adding crushed peanuts on top of overnight oatmeal.

If you have too many peanuts, make homemade peanut butter or feed them to outdoor birds. Do not feed birds moldy nuts. It’s not good for them.

open jar of peanut butter

For the nuts that are old and you shouldn’t eat, you can compost them. If you suspect your peanuts have gone bad, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard them.

The bottom line is that peanuts are pretty shelf-stable and last longer when shelled. If you want to extend the shelf-life, buy them in the shell or store them in the fridge or freezer.

Have your peanuts gone bad? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Hi, I found your article very interesting and a little confusing. You say that peanuts out of the shell have a shorter shelf life. Yet on your chart you say that shelled peanuts can last 4 months and unshelled peanuts only 4 weeks! So which is it, do they last longer shelled or unshelled?

  2. Why not use your peanuts before they go rancid. Vacuum pack and freeze for longer storage. And use those peanuts!!!! There’s no limit that I am aware to the ways to use peanuts.

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