Nuts contain calories, nutrition, and natural fats needed for survival, but they are not a good choice for long-term survival food because they have a limited shelf-life.
Avoid storing nuts in long-term food storage for more than two years. Nuts are high in lipids (fats), causing them to go rancid from enzyme reactions in 3 to 24 months, depending on the nut variety. Oxygen-free storage does not improve shelf-life.
Long-term Food Storage Definition: Foods kept for long-term storage typically have a shelf-life of 10 to 30-years. Dried foods like white rice, beans, hard and soft grains are repackaged into oxygen-free containers for a maximum shelf-life of 30 plus years.
These foods are the backbone of a long-term food storage plan, stored nuts are not a food stored long-term.
Nuts are an excellent source of nutrition and healthy fats (hard to come by in emergency foods). For best results store them as short-term emergency food. Think months to a couple of years max.
Humans need fat to grow cells, absorb nutrients, and produce necessary hormones. Nuts provide the nutrients necessary for these processes.
Nuts With the Longest Shelf-life
Almonds and hazelnuts are the best choices for short-term survival foods because they generally have the longest shelf-life of 2 years.
Tip: To store nuts longer keep them in the freezer or refrigerator and in the shell. (Not a prime storage technique for a survival or SHTF scenario.)
Following is a chart of the most common foods nuts with typical shelf-life.
Chart #1: shelf-life of common nuts: roasted or raw
|Nut Type||Estimated Shelf-life (68° F), Roasted|
|Raw Nut Shelf-life|
|Walnut||6 to 9||3||12||3|
|Cashew||6 to 9||6||12||6|
|Peanut||6 to 9||1||1||6|
|Pine Nut||2||2||3 to 6||2|
|Macadamia Nut||3||3||3 to 6||5|
What Factors Effect The Shelf Life of Nuts?
Nuts have the same storage requirements as most foods in the pantry. They need to be stored in a cool, dry location, up off the floor in an opaque sealed container that keeps away light. Don’t forget your nuts.
Here are 7 factors that affect the shelf-life of nuts.
- Nut variety: shelf life varies 3 to 24 months
- Drying: How well the nuts are dried before packaging
- Storage Container: How well the packaging creates moisture-barrier
- Storage Temperatures: 75° F or less
- Storage Humidity: 55 to 70% (plant sciences, University of California, Davis)
- Oil Content: variation in the amount of fat in a nut affects storage life
- Time: eventually, nuts will go bad regardless of storage conditions
Which Nut Has The Longest Shelf-Life?
Almonds and Hazelnuts tie when it comes to shelf-life. Both will store for 2 years in the refrigerator or the freezer.
When stored in a cupboard, at 75° F or less, almonds and hazelnuts will store for one year.
Store Nuts With the Shell
Nuts in the shell last 25 to 50% longer than nutmeats alone.
Shelf life varies depending on the variety of nuts and whether the packaging acts as a good moisture barrier.
Nut meats that have been chopped have half the life of a whole nut because there is more exposure to oxygen and moisture.
Roasting nuts can also reduce shelf life by up to 1/4 of the shelf-life of raw nutmeat.
5 Ways To Tell Your Nuts Are Bad: Long-term Food Storage
If nuts are just starting to go bad they will be rubbery and will taste bitter. Here are 5 indicators nuts have gone south.
Fresh nuts taste fresh and nutty. If they’ve gone south, nuts will taste bitter. Nut oil forms free radicals due to enzyme reactions and creates toxins that make nuts taste bitter.
When you open a jar or bag of fresh nuts, you know they are fresh. If the fat in nuts has gone rancid, you will no longer smell the nutty goodness. Instead, nuts will smell like paint, nail polish remover, or plastic.
Mold has a distinctive smell, and it’s either powdery white or black depending on how old it is. Mold usually occurs if moisture or humidity gets to improperly stored nuts.
With too much moisture, nuts may get soft or spongy and become unpalatable. Too little moisture and nuts will get brittle, crumbly or powdery.
Nuts darken when fats oxidize, in combination with off odors you’ll know nuts have gone south.
Save Stale Nuts In 5 Steps
If nuts have been exposed to moisture, they soften and get spongy. Not very appetizing. You may be able to bring them back from the dead by throwing them in the oven on a cookie sheet but this is a short-term fix. It won’t increase shelf-life but it may make nuts palatable.
- Preheat your oven to 300° F
- Pour nuts into a baking pan or on a baking sheet and spread them out.
- Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven.
- Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until crunchy
- Test nuts periodically to see if they have reached the desired consistency
Oxygen-free Containers And Nut Shelf-life: Long-term Storage
Storing nuts in an Oxygen-free container will kill bugs, eggs, and pupae which can also be done by freezing. This type of storage won’t increase shelf-life. Enzyme oxidation of nut oils will happen whether stored oxygen-free or not.
Foods repackaged and stored in oxygen free storage are normally less than 10% moisture and low in fat. Nuts are too high in fat.
Foods typically stored oxygen-free are dry beans, white rice, wheat berries, hard grains and some soft grains. Definitely worth looking into for certain foods, just not nuts.
Chart #2: Nut(s) Nutrient Comparison
|Total Fat (g)||14||19||13||17||22||20||13||18|
|Saturated Fat (g)||1||4.5||3||1.5||3.5||2||1.5||1.5|
|Polyunsaturated Fat (g)||3.5||7||2||2||0.5||6||4||1.5|
|Monosaturated Fat (g)||9||7||8||13||17||12||7||2.5|
|Dietary Fiber (g)||4||2||1||3||2||3||3||2|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0||0||0.1||0.2||0.1||0.1||0.3||0.2|
|Vitamin E (mg)||7.3||1.6||.3||4.3||.2||.4||.6||.2|
Nut Substitutes for Long-term Storage
Nuts provide fat, and fat is hard to come by in long term food storage. Here is a list of survival foods to consider as fat replacements for the long haul. I’m not a fan of any of these, but you’ll get what you need in hard times.
Er, what? Spam? Yep! It stores indefinitely, and most of the calories come from fat and protein.
#2 Canned Meats
Canned meats are the go too, long term fat source. Worth considering as a substitute because they have a lot of fat and protein. Best buy dates on canned foods are just that “Best if used by.” See the Ready Squirrel video, Canned Meat For SHTF
Ghee is a form of clarified butter with an indefinite shelf-life. One tablespoon of Ghee contains 13 grams of fat. You can make it at home or purchase it.
#4 Dried Whole Eggs
2 TBSP of dry whole eggs provide 75 calories, 45 from fat.
#5 Canned Cheese
Canned Cheeses are High in fat and provide an indefinite shelf-life. You can also purchase Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) cheddar cheese packets in bulk
#6 Meat Fat
Heat canning your own lard, pork and beef fat.
Don’t Store Nuts: Grow Them In a Survival Garden
Having a nut forest in your backyard is one of the best food safety nets you can have. Combine nut trees with fruit trees and bushes, and you have a hardcore safety net of food for hard times.
If you want nuts post-SHTF, the best way to ensure a supply is to plant nut trees that will thrive in your growing zone. The quickest producing nut is the American Hazelnut.
Chart #3: Nut Trees: Years From Planting To Nut Harvest
|Nut Tree Type||Years To Harvest|
|Pistachios||4 to 5|
|Hazelnuts||2 to 5|
|Pecan||6 to 10 +|
Best Nut Tree To Plant In a Survival Garden
If I could plant only one type of nut tree or bush in my survival garden, it would be the Hazelnut also called a filbert. They begin producing quickly (within 2 years), and are easy to propagate. Propagating allows you to make baby plants to increase the number of trees you have which increases nut yield.
Done properly your only expense will be your initial plants. *Make sure you follow the law, don’t propagate trees if it’s illegal.
By using a technique called air layering, you can produce a hazelnut forest from a few bushes or trees.
For best results, have as many varieties of hazelnut/filbert as possible to see which ones do best in your micro-climate.
Typically, hazelnuts grow well in Growing Zones 4 to 9. They require a pollinator to produce nuts, so make sure you know what you are planting before you order. Nurseries that sell hazels and filberts will tell you what type of pollinator you need.
Hazelnuts, also called filbert nuts, are compact, which makes them easy to harvest, and again, they start producing earlier than other nut varieties.
I used the propagation technique in the video above and went from 3 hazelnut plant varieties in one year to 9 trees the next. I could have done a lot more but I was a little nervous I’d hurt the mama trees, don’t worry the trees don’t mind.
Air layer hazelnut trees year after year to create a nut forest or a nut hedge around a property line.
Filberts provide protein, healthy fats, potassium, calcium, vitamin c, vitamin B-6, and magnesium. Here are 6 interesting facts about hazelnuts.
- Hazelnuts are compact for a nut tree. 10’ to 20’ foot tall with a 15’ foot spread
- Require a pollinizer (another compatible hazelnut)
- Filbert oil is used for food preparation
- Trees produce up to 80 years
- Hazelnut flour is popular in Germany for making baked goods
- Scottish Archeological evidence showed hazelnut consumption 9000 years ago
Where Can I Buy Hazelnut Trees?
This is not a comprehensive list but it will get you started if you are interested in getting a nut forest started.
- Cold Stream Farm.net
- Twisted Tree Farm
- Burnt Ridge Nursery.com
- Chief River Nursery.com
- Birkemeir Nursery LLC
- Nutty Ridge LLC
- Midwest Hazelnuts. Org
- Portland Nursery. Com
In addition to this list, you can check out state cooperative extensions and local growers. Many small-scale food-foresty nurseries are sellign nut and fruit trees; these are your best bet if you are looking for organic trees or local, wild varieties.
Best Plants And Trees To Grow In An Emergency Garden, Ready Squirrel.com,
Estimates of Raw Nuts Held at Different Temperatures, Marita Cantwell, Post Harvest Specialist, University of California, Davis link
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28,