Shelf Life for Nuts and Dried Fruit

Napa Nuts fields a lot of questions every day.  We try to answer yes as often as possible.

“Do you carry any nuts from California?”

Yes! 4 in fact, Walnuts, Pistachios, Pecans and Almonds.

“Do you have anything I would like?”

Yes! We don’t know what you like yet, but with 200 different products, we can find something.

“Are you able to send something to my niece in Minnesota?”

Yes! Just tell us what she likes and give us an address.

“How long will this last on my shelf?”

Well… This is where it gets a bit complicated.

Firstly, there are tons of variables built in to this question.  Different products will have different shelf lives. Nuts will perform differently than dried fruit on the shelf.  It really just depends.

In order to answer one of our more frequently asked questions about how long our products will last, what follows is a description of some of the factors that will affect shelf life and freshness as well as how to make sure these products will stay the freshest.

Nuts on the Shelf.jpg

Temperature is the most important factor.

Heat is something that will quickly degrade the longevity of any nut or dried fruit.  Roasted nuts often go stale much faster than raw products. The act of roasting, or exposing the nuts to heat, starts to release some of natural oils in the nut.  This changes the chemical makeup of the nut and makes the meat more susceptible to other factors that degrade the freshness of the nut.

Oddly enough, dried fruit needs a little bit of heat in the drying process.  This then increases the shelf life of the fruit. Once dried, however, the moisture content of the fruit is optimized for freshness.  As with fresh fruit, the water in the fruit will start to evaporate. As heat speeds up evaporation, if not stored properly, a nice chewy piece of dried fruit can quickly turn into something with more of a dry leather consistency.  

The best solution is to store your nuts and dried fruit in a refrigerator.  You will protect your product from heat, obviously, and give yourself a bit better shelf life.  As a company with no minimum order quantity for our customers, we also suggest just buying enough for your needs.  If our customer needs 5 pounds per month, we would prefer that they order a pound a week rather than risk the product going bad by week 4.   Most products last much longer than a month, but this still illustrates our general philosophy.

Oxygen and water vapor in the air is the second problem.

Nuts and dried fruit can oxidize and absorb atmospheric moisture.  This is when the fruit or nut reacts with the natural gasses in our environment.  This will cause the product to spoil and the taste will degrade.

You will notice the oxidation process most quickly with the dried fruit.  The color will quickly change from a vibrant, natural fruit color to the more brown of a piece of fruit that is way past ripe.  The flavor will start to change at this point as well. We would recommend getting something fresher at this point.

For the nuts, the change is not as obvious.  The nut’s density will change a bit. The crisp crunch will be gone and the nut will be much softer as the nut starts to absorb water and oxygen.  There will start to be some bitterness in the flavor as the nut starts to turn rancid.

We always recommend keeping your nuts and dried fruit in an airtight container. This will limit the exposure to fresh air until you want to snack.

Our Product Storage Best Practices

  • Use your fridge and freezer for better temperature control

  • Keep your nuts and dried fruit in an airtight container

  • If you can’t store your nuts and dried fruit in a fridge or freezer, store them in a cool, dry place, out of the sun

  • Only order what you are going to eat soon, although it will last for a while, get the fresh stuff more frequently