Storing Walnuts

picture of walnuts


Storing Walnuts:

Walnuts contain oil and because of that they can easily turn rancid. Light, moisture and heat will all reduce the shelf life of your walnuts by causing the oils to change structure. Walnuts should smell mildly nutty and have a sweet taste. If they smell bad, they are probably rancid and you should throw them away.

To ensure the best taste, wait to shell or chop walnuts until you’re ready to use them.

Walnuts thaw quickly at room temperature and can actually be used straight out of the refrigerator or freezer.

Occassionally we hear of cases where walnuts have been contaminated with bacteria (such as E. Coli). If you suspect this is the case for walnuts you have stored, throw them away. In both the US and Canada, there are government websites that lists all recent food recalls. Make sure that you are not eating anything on these lists.

Walnuts with Shells Removed:

Walnuts that have had their shells removed need to be refrigerated or frozen.

When storing walnuts in the refrigerator, you need to keep them in an air-tight container away from other foods. Walnuts easily absorb moisture and odors from other foods, and food with strong odors (fish, onions) can seriously affect the taste of walnuts.

They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

Walnuts can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 year.

Walnuts in the Shell:

Walnuts in the shell should be stored in a plastic bag in a cool dry place. Do not store them in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator because the humidity will cause them to deteriorate much faster.

Walnuts in the shell can be stored for up to 3 months.

Walnut Oil:

Walnut oil should be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. To prevent walnut oil from becoming rancid, refrigeration is best.


California Walnut Fact Sheet

Walnut Care and Storage

Leslie Beck, RD

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Posted in Food Storage
7 comments on “Storing Walnuts
  1. I keep all my nuts and seeds in the freezer, except for a small amount that’s left out for snacking. I only buy walnuts from a couple of sources that have proven to be of good quality. If you’re not careful you can buy shelled walnuts that are already rancid.

  2. Ann Metts says:


    • Mark says:

      Good question. Freezing keeps the oils from going rancid. In my opinion, it would be better to freeze the nuts raw and then roast them once you removed them from the freezer.

  3. kuldeep says:

    can we store walnut in refrigerator?

  4. Shirley Williams says:

    Can you please tell me, some of my walnuts i have cracked open are black on the outside of the part you eat but taste fine. Is it save to eat them?

  5. Rahney Pea says:

    I currently live in California where I pick fresh walnuts off of the trees. I usually store them in their shells inside of coffee containers for 3 months, then spend a few days shelling them. I store the shelled nuts in mason jars at room temperature and they’ve always lasted the whole year just fine. But now I have 2 problems and I’m desperate for solutions.
    1. Beginning with last year’s walnut crop, I started noticing tiny beetles in the mason jars. They’re eating the walnuts and leaving a fine dust at the bottom of the jars. I think I’ve correctly identified them as walnut twig beetles. Through searching online, I’ve found out that roasting the nuts will kill the larvae. Yay, right? Read on…
    2. My family will be moving back to New Jersey in a few months. It will be an incredibly long cross country drive. Does anybody have a suggestion for how I should store the nuts for this trek? I’m afraid if I leave them in the shell, the beetles will hatch and destroy the nuts. If I shell them, the beetles will hatch in jars. How can I best store the nuts without a freezer or fridge? I have about 15 gallons of unshelled walnuts so the sooner I figure out what to do, the sooner I can get cracking and get a move on. Puns intended. Tyia.

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