Shelf Life of Pecans: How to Store for long-term storage

Shelf Life of Pecans: How to Store for Long-Term Storage

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Pecans are a great addition to a healthy diet, not to mention how versatile these nuts are. They can be used as an ingredient in your pastry desserts, such as pies and cookies, and also be served as a savory snack. There’s so much you can do with pecans, and they’re all guilt-free!

On the flip side, all the goodness and benefits of pecans don’t come cheap. Buying them in bulk can save you a few bucks, but how can you be sure you can consume all of them before some of them go bad?

The shelf life of pecans depends on the type of pecan: in-shell or shelled. In-shell pecans last up to 3 years when stored in the freezer, and shelled pecans last up to 2 years when stored in a similar place.

In this article, we’ll cover the shelf life of pecans and the proper ways of storing them.

Pecans Shelled and In-Shell

What is the Shelf Life of Pecans?

The shelf life of pecans varies depending on whether they’re shelled or not and how they’re stored. Poor storage conditions like exposure to air, light, and moisture shorten the shelf life of pecans since these factors speed up the process of oxidation (source).

The high oil content of pecans can also reduce their shelf life if they’re not secured in an airtight container. This is because oils are particularly susceptible to oxygen damage that leads to rancidity (source).

Here are the estimations of shelf life for in-shell and shelled pecans.

In-Shell PecansShelled Pecans
Pantry (70°F)4-6 months2-3 months
Fridge (40°F)1+ years9-12 months
Freezer (0°F)Up to 3 yearsUp to 2 years

In-shell Pecans

In-shell pecans have a longer shelf life compared to shelled ones. This makes sense since they still have their shells to protect them from external elements that can make them go bad.

This is the expected shelf life of in-shell pecans depending on where they’re stored:

  • Pantry: Around 4 to 6 months
  • Refrigerator: More than a year
  • Freezer: Up to 3 years

Due to the shells’ protection, the pecans don’t need to be refrigerated or frozen to last long.

Shelled Pecans

Shelled pecans, on the other hand, have a shorter shelf life since they no longer have their protective shells. The estimated shelf life of shelled pecans is as follows:

  • Pantry: Around 2 to 3 months
  • Refrigerator: 9 months to a year
  • Freezer: Up to 2 years

Additionally, shelled pecans will stay in good condition for two months after removing them from the fridge or freezer.


How to Know If Pecans Have Gone Bad

How do you know if pecans have gone bad and aren’t suitable for eating? We listed some signs you should look out for.

Pecans Become Rancid

The very first thing you’ll notice when you suspect pecans have gone bad is their odd smell and sharp, bitter taste—this means they’re rancid. The odd smell that rancid pecans have is somewhat similar to the smell of paint, nail polish, or old plastic containers.

The rancid smell and taste aren’t always strong. You might end up eating a few pecans before you notice they’re rancid. The good thing is consuming a few rancid pecans won’t upset your stomach.

Rancid pecans are not unsafe to eat, but they’re not healthy. The nutritional value of the food diminishes the older it is. You should push the pecans away as soon as you recognize the rancid smell and taste.

Mold Starts to Grow

When you see mold forming inside the bag, you should toss the pecans straight into the garbage.

Mold is a clear sign of spoilage and, unlike the case with rancid nuts, consuming moldy ones can be dangerous (source).

Bugs Are Infesting the Pecans

Need I say more?

The bugs that usually infest nuts are the same bugs that infest flour and sugar. Again, you’ll need to throw the pecans away if you see any bugs lying around in the package.

Also, make sure to clean the pantry to completely get rid of the bugs and prevent them from coming back.

Partially shelled pecan

How to Store Pecans Long-Term

There are three places where you can store pecans: in dry storage, refrigerator, or freezer. The difference between the three is their storage temperatures. Just like in other foods, temperature plays a big role in storing pecans and maximizing their shelf life.

The temperature at 40° to 140° F is considered the danger zone” for most foods, but pecans can last around two months or more when stored at 70° F room temperature.

For pecans to last longer, you can opt to store them in the refrigerator (40° F or below) or the freezer (0° F).

Related Article: Long-Term Food Storage in Mason Jars

How to Store In-shell Pecans

As previously mentioned, in-shell pecans won’t need to be refrigerated or frozen to last long because of their shells. But you still have these options in case you need the pecans to last even longer.

When storing pecans, you have to make sure the containers you use are secure. If you want to leave the pecans on the counter, place them in a glass jar with a lid or any airtight container.

You also have to ensure that the space where you leave them is not exposed to moisture or light.

The jar of pecans can stay on the counter for a few months, but if you wish for them to last longer, move them to the fridge. You can keep them in the jar or transfer them to a resealable bag.

Pecans partially shelled

How to Store Shelled Pecans

Shelled pecans can be stored the same way as in-shell ones. If possible, avoid leaving them at room temperature. Storing shelled pecans in the refrigerator or freezer is recommended.

Since these pecans have no shells, only the container can protect them from moisture and from absorbing odors of other foods in the fridge. Again, make sure to use an airtight container and to keep the pecans away from bright and moist spaces.

Freezing and Defrosting Pecans

Storing pecans in the freezer can guarantee the longest shelf life. Defrosting and refreezing pecans don’t affect their taste or quality, but microwaving does.

If you want to take the pecans out of the freezer, you can just leave them to defrost for 30 minutes, and they’ll be good to go.

Pecans in a bowl


Worried about the shelf life of pecans and looking to store them while keeping their freshness?

First and foremost, you should meticulously buy pecans that are still fresh and plump. Avoid batches with discolored pecans or those that come in irregular sizes. Naturally, fresh pecans will last longer than those that have already spent some time in the store.

The shelf life of pecans discussed in this article is estimated based on the best storage conditions. When properly stored, in-shell pecans last as long as 2 years, and shelled pecans last up to 3 years. These estimations can vary, so it’s best to check the actual qualities of stored pecans from time to time to know if they’re still good to eat.

After that, long-term pecan storage should go as smoothly as a knife in butter, just as we discussed earlier!

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