Can out-of-date pine nuts make you sick? (+5 Safety Tips)

In this article, we will answer the question “Can out-of-date pine nuts make you sick?”, and how to store pine nuts?

Can out-of-date pine nuts make you sick?

Yes, consuming spoiled or expired pine nuts may lead to symptoms commonly associated with mild food poisoning, such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Additionally, some individuals may experience a bitter or metallic taste, known as “pine mouth” or “pine nut syndrome,” which can last from a few days up to two weeks. 

It’s important to note that not everyone who consumes pine nuts will experience this taste disturbance. Initially, the pine nuts may not taste any different, but after 1 to 3 days, the bitter or metallic taste becomes noticeable and can be intensified by consuming food and beverages. 

Fortunately, these symptoms typically subside after several days, and there are no known adverse health effects associated with pine nut syndrome. (1)

How to store pine nuts?

The combination of low-moisture conditioning and near-freezing temperature storage proves to be an effective method for preserving the quality and prolonging the shelf life of pine nuts. 

The degradation of pine nut quality during storage is primarily attributed to both nut metabolism and the presence of microorganisms, and these factors are highly influenced by storage conditions such as temperature, moisture content, and gas composition. 

By controlling these parameters, it is possible to mitigate deterioration and maintain the desired quality of pine nuts over an extended period. (2)

Can you freeze pine nuts?

Yes, pine nuts can be stored in the freezer to enhance their shelf life. In general, combining low-moisture conditioning with near-freezing temperature storage offers a promising non-chemical approach to preserve the postharvest quality of pine nuts and extend their shelf life. (2)

How long do pine nuts last?

The storage duration of pine nuts varies depending on the storage method: they can stay fresh in the pantry for approximately 1 to 2 months, in the fridge for about 3 to 4 months, and in the freezer for around 5 to 6 months. 

However, by implementing optimal storage conditions and utilizing specialized materials like high-density polyethylene packaging, the shelf life of pine nuts can be significantly extended, potentially up to 3 years.

The fatty acid composition of pine nuts plays a crucial role in their stability. These nuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly linoleic acid, and contain smaller amounts of α-linolenic acid. The primary monounsaturated fatty acid present is oleic acid.

Due to the high levels of unsaturated fats, pine nuts are susceptible to oxidation, which negatively impacts their nutritional value and sensory properties. 

During the storage and distribution processes, pine nuts are exposed to various environmental conditions that can trigger chemical reactions, primarily oxidative processes, leading to changes in the product. (3)

Why do pine nuts go bad?

Due to their high oil content and fatty acid composition, tree nuts, including pine nuts, are prone to oxidative rancidity and rapid deterioration.

The quality and shelf life of tree nuts are heavily influenced by storage conditions. Different tree nut species have varying storage requirements due to their unique oil and fatty acid compositions.

In general, nuts that have higher levels of monounsaturated fatty acids exhibit greater stability and are less susceptible to oxidative rancidity compared to nuts with high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids. (4)

How to tell If pine nuts have gone bad?

The quality of pine nuts is assessed based on sensory attributes such as color, odor, texture, and taste. 

Any unpleasant or rancid odors and flavors that impact the overall food quality, along with nut browning and the presence of mold, are indicative signs of spoilage. 

These factors serve as important indicators to evaluate the freshness and desirability of pine nuts. (2, 3)


In this article, we answered the question “Can out-of-date pine nuts make you sick?”, and how to store pine nuts?


  1. Gama, T., Wallace, H. M., Trueman, S. J., & Hosseini-Bai, S.  Quality and shelf life of tree nuts: A review. Scientia Horticulturae, 242, 116–126. 2018.
  2. Carolina Henríquez, Verónica Loewe, Jorge Saavedra, Andrés Córdova & Mariane Lutz  Effect of the type of packaging on the oxidative stability of pine nuts (Pinus pinea L.) grown in Chile, CyTA – Journal of Food, 16:1, 255-262, 2018.
  3. Cai, L., Liu, C., & Ying, T.  Changes in quality of low-moisture conditioned pine nut (Pinus gerardiana) under near freezing temperature storage. CyTA – Journal of Food, 11(3), 216–222. 2013.
  4. Risso DS, Howard L, VanWaes C, Drayna D. A potential trigger for pine mouth: a case of a homozygous phenylthiocarbamide taster. Nutr Res;35(12):1122-5.2015

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