The Sob Story of Stale or Rancid Nuts
Perhaps you’ve forgotten to consume the packet of nuts on the counter. They’re long past their expiry date, but they look perfectly fine. No mould, no fungus. They look exactly like how they were when you first bought them. However, I would not recommend consuming them. This article will tell you more about why nuts go rancid, and how you can refresh stale nuts.
Why Do Nuts Turn Stale?
Unfortunately, nuts can go stale after a certain amount of time. While they may rot and grow mould (although this is still possible in a moist environment), they can go rancid. Nuts are an excellent source of healthy fat, giving them the variety of useful health benefits that we desire. Find out more about the health benefits of various nuts here. However, the fat content in nuts is also what causes them to turn rancid. Nuts contain a high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acid, which is beneficial for brain function and heart health. However, when exposed to oxygen in the air for long periods of time, these fats can oxidize. This process causes the chemical structure of the fats to change, significantly altering the smell and taste of the nuts at the same time.
How Do I Tell if My Nuts Have Gone Bad?
The most obvious indicator is their smell. Nuts smell sour and rancid and aren’t quite pleasant. In terms of texture, stale nuts tend to feel softer and lose their trademark crunch when stale. Lastly, rancid nuts taste just like how they smell – sour and bitter. At this point, it is not recommended to consume stale nuts as the oxidation has caused the nuts to lose their beneficial properties. In fact, oxidized foods can even be linked to other diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
When Do My Nuts Expire?
Different nuts have different amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acid, and thus go stale at differing rates. Refer to this table below to give you an estimate on how quickly your nuts might go bad! In general, unshelled nuts last longer than deshelled nuts as well.
|Pantry, past their printed date||Fridge, past their printed date||Freezer, past their printed date|
|Almonds||9-12 months||1 year||2 years|
|Brazil nuts||9 months||1 year||1 year|
|Cashews||6-9 months||1 year||2 years|
|Hazelnuts||4-6 months||1 year||1 year|
|Macadamias||6-9 months||1 year||2 years|
|Peanuts||6 months||1 year||2 years|
|Pecans||6 months||1 year||2 years|
|Pine nuts||1-2 months||3-4 months||5-6 months|
|Walnuts||6 months||1 year||2 years|
How Should I Store My Nuts?
Nuts turn stale due to exposure, so the best way to keep them fresh is to reduce exposure to air! Store your favourite nuts in an airtight container or bag, to reduce the amount of oxygen it is exposed to. This ensures your stored nuts also maintain the proper moisture level. Placing them in a cool, dry area also helps as spoiling is accelerated more in the presence of light, oxygen and heat. To keep your nuts fresh for the longest period of time, place your nuts in the fridge or freezer in a section. It should be in an area that does not have experience much fluctuation in temperature. Always allow cold nuts to warm to room temperature before opening the container. This prevents condensation and absorption of more water. Enjoy your nuts!
Can I refresh my stale nuts?
If your nuts have just begun to go stale, the good news is that they can be refreshed! This is only applicable to nuts that have just begun to lose their familiar nutty taste and crunchy texture. Easily refresh them by placing them in an oven
- If your nuts have not been shelled, make sure to deshell them.
- Pick the nuts carefully, removing any nuts that appear shriveled, mouldy or have sour or rancid smells.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F or 177 C.
- Spread the nuts out on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Make sure the nuts are evenly spaced out!
- Bake the nuts for 10 minutes. Halfway through the baking time, shake the pan and flip the nuts to ensure that they toast evenly.
- Remove the nuts from the oven and let them cool. Use the nuts in another recipe or have them as a snack! Best consumed fresh out of the oven.
Nuts are a tasty and healthy snack, so make sure to consume them when they are at their prime for the greatest nutritional benefit. Get some here!