Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower Seeds Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

Sunflower seeds are one of the edible seeds known for their health benefits. Like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds are packed with nutrients, particularly vitamin E, selenium, and antioxidants.

The seeds, which are technically the flower of sunflower plants, are enjoyed in plenty of different ways.

It’s great to add into trail mix, on top of yogurt or cereals, and to add crunchy bits into your dishes. And of course, these sunflower seeds are the legendary snacks during a baseball game!

Every now and then, we buy foods, use some, store the rest, and forget what we store. One day you found an old pack of sunflower seeds that’s been tucked away behind many other things. A cliché situation, the bag has passed the “best-by” date.

You’re planning to use the seeds for baking some loaves of bread. But, at the same time, you doubt if the seeds are still okay to use. Do sunflower seeds go bad?

If you find yourself in a similar situation above, don’t worry. In this article, we will share some useful knowledge on sunflower seeds’ shelf life, storage methods, and common signs of sunflower seeds going bad. Interesting for you? Read on!

Storage Methods

You can find both shelled and unshelled, raw and roasted sunflower seeds at the store. Salted seeds are probably the most common variety, but other flavors are also available.

Sunflower kernels are more convenient as a snack, but many people (maybe including you) enjoy cracking open the shell and spit it out. Of course, after sucking the shell full of salt and flavors.

No matter which variant you buy, the storage guidelines for sunflower seeds are relatively similar.

As long as the pack is unopened, keep it safely in a cool, dry place, away from sources of heat and sunlight, such as your pantry or kitchen cupboard.

After opening, keep remaining seeds in the original package. Squeeze the excess air before closing the seal. If the bag is not resealable, transfer the seeds into a jar or a sealed container. Don’t forget to label it.

If you prefer buying sunflowers in bulk, the storage guidelines are similar to an opened package.

Sunflower seeds are high in fat. Therefore, they tend to go rancid quickly. Hence, keep them dry and avoid exposure to air and heat. If the pack is opened more frequently, going rancid is just a matter of time.

If you only eat the seeds once in a while, consider keeping sunflower seeds in the refrigerator or freeze them to prolong the shelf life.

Can you freeze sunflower seeds?

Freezing sunflower seeds provides a favorable environment to extend the shelf life. Transfer them into a sealed container or a freezer bag. Label the container and keep it in the freezer for later use.

Dividing the seeds into smaller packages comes handy during thawing. You can just take the amount you need instead of taking the whole container. Safely defrost the seeds in the refrigerator, or use them right away for baking if also possible.

How Long Are Sunflower Seeds Good For?

Commercially-prepared sunflower seeds usually come with a “best-by” or “best-before” date. Like with most packaged foods, this date is a rough estimate to indicate that the quality will stay at its best when properly stored.

Beyond the date, sunflower seeds may stay edible. Always check any spoilage signs before consuming them.

After opening, sunflower seeds start to degrade in quality when kept at room temperature. Hence, it’s still best to finish the pack as soon as possible or consider refrigerating or freezing it.

Frozen sunflower seeds keep the quality best up to a year, but generally remain safe to consume after that.

Roasted seeds tend to last longer than raw ones due to lower moisture content.

ClassificationPantryRefrigeratorFreezer
Sunflower seeds (unopened)Best by + 1 to 2 monthsBest by + 12 months
Sunflower seeds (opened, or in bulk)3 to 4 months7 to 8 months12 months

This table is a general guideline. The real shelf life of sunflower seeds may vary depending on brands and storage conditions. If you notice any suspicious signs of spoiled seeds, better toss them out. 

How To Tell If Sunflower Seeds Are Bad

As dried food, sunflower seeds benefit from extended shelf life. However, as with most foods, they will eventually go bad.

Spotting sunflower seeds going bad isn’t a difficult task. In most cases, you can rely on your senses to pass judgment.

First, take a closer look and see if you can spot any molds, discoloration (usually to yellowish shade), or insect manifestation. If that’s the case, the seeds are no longer edible.

Like other nut and seeds (like pumpkin seeds, almonds, etc.), sunflower seeds are notoriously known for their fat content. As a consequence, going rancid is inevitable.

Next, if the seeds smell rancid, they’re not fun anymore for a snack. Although rancid food won’t likely make you sick, the taste is unpleasant.

If you can’t really tell from the appearance and smell, give one or two seeds a taste test. If the taste is acceptable, feel free to eat the rest. But, if the taste is off, sour, or unpleasant in any way, there’s no good in keeping the rest. Better safe than sorry.


FAQs

Can you eat old sunflower seeds?

Yes, only if they are properly stored, and the package isn’t damaged. If you don’t spot any suspicious signs of spoiled seeds, feel free to eat. On the other hand, eating bad seeds may risk your health.

With proper storage, sunflower seeds can last beyond the date on the label. However, the seeds may have degraded, and the taste is subpar.

Can you eat raw sunflower seeds?

Yes, it is generally safe to consume raw sunflower seeds. Both raw and roasted are widely available in the store. But, if you are in doubt due to certain health conditions, it is best to consult your physician.

What’s the difference between sunflower seeds and sunflower kernels?

In general, both sunflower seeds and kernels are available in the market. Sunflower kernels are the inner, edible part of sunflower seeds. It’s the kernel that we usually eat. The kernels are technically the seeds in which the hulls (or shells) have been removed.

Are sunflower seeds keto-friendly?

Nuts and seeds are generally known to be low in carbs and high in fats. Sunflower seeds are no exception. Therefore, sunflower seeds are considered suitable for a keto diet.

What happens if you eat a lot of sunflower seeds?

Sunflower is high in fats, consequently, makes it calorie-dense. Next to that, these tiny seeds are typically loaded with salt, especially the snack variety.

As with every other food, it is recommended to consume sunflower seeds in moderation and as part of a healthy diet. Overeating of sunflower seeds is not recommended, particularly if you need to watch your calorie and sodium intake. These two are the culprits for weight gain, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

Final Thought

To sum up, sunflower seeds are nutritious snacks and a great addition to your cereals and dishes. Although typically dried seeds are pretty stable, they will go bad after a while.

Always keep the seeds dry to preserve the quality and extend the shelf life. If the seeds are rancid, moldy, smell bad, and taste-off, they’re no longer edible and should be discarded. Enjoy these crunchy bits while still fresh, and don’t let them go to waste!

Up Next: Can Chia Seeds Go Bad?

sunflower seeds shelf life

*Photo by dndavis/depositphotos

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