6 Edible Seeds and Their Shelf Life

6 edible seeds

Did you know that seeds have been used for centuries for survival? Here are 6 edible seeds and their shelf life to start you off.

Sunflower seeds

Sunflowers stand out for their beauty. However, their uses are far-reaching. The sunflower plant is a popular food item.

Sunflower has its origin in North America. Documented history show that Native Americans domesticated sunflower from as early as 3,000 BC.

Currently, the states of North Dakota, California and Minnesota lead in sunflower farming. Due to barter trade, sunflower found its way in the Soviet Union states. Nowadays, Russia is the chief producer and exporter of sunflower and its by-products.

Nutritionally, sunflower is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fats and proteins. Apart from this, sunflower has plenty of uses as follows:

In food

It is majorly used to produce sunflower oil – the oil is used in cooking; beauty regimens for hair and skin as well as a traditional medicinal ointment for pulmonary ailments, insect or snake bites.

The edible seeds serve various culinary uses – they are eaten as a snack, ground into flour and added to baked products.

As animal feed

Besides human consumption, sunflower provides food for various birds and animals. They not only munch on the crunchy seeds but the leaves and stalks as well.

As a natural dye

The colored sunflower petals are popularly used to produce natural dyes.

Shelf life of sunflower seeds

You can find sunflower seeds as shelled, whole, raw, toasted or dried. Fresh (raw) sunflower seeds turn rancid quickly. Past the printed date, raw ones will last for up to 3 months in the pantry. Dried sunflower seeds have a longer shelf life and will keep well for 6 months. For unopened bags, you can opt to freeze them as they will last up to 1 year.

Pumpkin seeds

These are the edible seeds of pumpkin, squash or other cultivars of the squash family.

Pumpkins and the squash family at large are natives of Mexico, south and Central America. However, their cultivation spans across 6 of the 7 continents.

Pumpkin seeds are readily available. You can easily prepare them at home. Simply scrap them off from the flesh, soak them in water to loosen the stringy flesh and they are ready for use.

You can use them fresh or toast them on a pan or oven until dried. Nearly every local store stock them up, hence you can also opt for such.

Pumpkin seeds are touted for their immense nutrients. They contain choke-full of iron, magnesium, zinc and sodium. Additionally, these seeds have substantial amounts of antioxidant compounds such as squalene, amino acids like tryptophan, plant sterols as well as vitamins E, fiber, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Shelf life of pumpkin seeds

Due to high fat content, seeds turn rancid fairly quickly. Store in a cool, dry place in airtight containers. Well stored pumpkin seeds last up to 4 months while in good quality.

Flax seeds

Did you know that flax is not only a food crop but a fiber one as well? Fabric made from flax is what is known as linen. Rope can also be made from this fiber.

Flax is otherwise known as linseed and is one of the oldest cultivated crops.

Flax seeds are highly valued for their nutritional benefits. They are consumed in various forms, as whole seeds or in powder form.

These seeds contain high levels of lignans, fiber and omega fatty acids. They are excellent for digestion and when mixed with water, form a gel-like texture.

Shelf life of flax seeds

Flax seeds have a longer shelf life than flax flour (meal). Store the seeds in the pantry or refrigerator. In the pantry, they can last from 6 months to up to 1 year when unopened. Flax meal keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

Hemp seeds

The hemp plant, also known as industrial hemp, is a species of the cannabis sativa. It produces edible seeds that are used in numerous forms.

Hemp plant serves other industrial uses like fiber production. Do not worry about hemp seeds making you high as they don’t contain substantial amount of the chemicals (THC) responsible for altering your state of mind.

Hemp seeds can be consumed whole, roasted, ground into meal or used to make hemp milk.

In whichever form, hemp seeds are highly nutritious and contain essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals as well as proteins.

Shelf life of hemp seeds

Utilize the pantry and refrigerator for shelf life maximization. When well stored in a dark, cool area, hemp seeds can last for up to 4 months. Refrigerated ones last longer, up to 1 year.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds have been all the rage in recent years. However, their existence spans across thousands of years, with their use being attributed to the Aztecs and Mayans.

They formed a crucial component in the diets of these communities. Chia seeds were highly touted as energy giving foods. In fact, the name chia is believed to be a Mayan word denoting strength. Their use was not limited to eating. They were used in traditional medicines and oil processing.

There are two major types of chia seeds – black and white. Chia seeds blend well when used in smoothies, puddings, baking as well as eating them roasted. They form a gel-like consistency when mixed in liquids.

Nutritionally, chia seeds contain high mineral levels like potassium, calcium and magnesium. Additionally, they are rich sources of proteins and omega 3 fatty acids.

Shelf life of chia seeds

Chia seeds have a longer shelf life than most seeds. Unopened ones can last for up to 4 years in the refrigerator and more than 2 years in the pantry. Chia flour has a shorter lifespan. Use within 1 month if stored in the pantry or up to 1 year when well stored in the fridge.

Sesame seeds

Sesamum indicum crop is another ancient cultivated crop. It is found wildly in certain African regions and is also widely cultivated in India.

It is a hardy crop and does well in arid areas.

Sesame seeds are obtained from okra-looking fruit pods of the sesame crop. The seeds can be white or black.

They are popularly used in Asian cuisine where the seeds are added to buns or pressed into oil.

Sesame seeds have a nutty, creamy crunch to them and boast of numerous nutrients. These include fiber, lignans, vitamins E, Bs, unsaturated fats, magnesium, calcium and zinc.

Shelf life of sesame seeds

Fresh, raw sesame seeds have a shorter shelf life compared to toasted ones. Both unopened and opened can be stored in the pantry as well as refrigerator. Raw ones can last up to 1 year. Roasted seeds can stretch up to 3 years. Ensure you use airtight containers and avoid damp areas.

Effective storage tips

Seeds turn rancid fairly quickly.

  • Store in a cool, dry area away from direct heat and moisture.
  • Use airtight containers or sealable bags. Always keep the storage containers tightly shut to prevent entry of contaminants and moisture.


  • Be on the lookout for mold growth on the husks of seeds. Discard them off to prevent cross contamination.
  • Use your taste buds to identify rancid tasting seeds. Such seeds become unpalatable and are better off being replaced.

Seeds have been used since antiquity. The mentioned 6 edible seeds and their shelf life only introduce you to the world of seeds and their uses.


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