How to Tell If Walnuts Have Gone Bad

Walnuts are a nutritious, flavourful nut that add healthy fats, antioxidants and protein to your diet. They can be eaten plain, as a snack or added to baked goods, salads, casseroles and other dishes. Just 1/4 a cup of walnuts provide 90 per cent of daily value of omega-3 fatty acids to a 2,000-calorie diet. Because of the omega-3s and an antioxidant called ellagic acid, walnuts are especially beneficial for heart and joint health. Its important to refrigerate walnuts in an airtight container to prevent rancidity.

Keep track of when the walnuts were purchased. Walnuts that are bought in the shell and stored in a cool place can stay fresh for up to a year. Chopped and ground walnuts should be consumed within a month or kept frozen.

Smell the walnuts. Fresh walnuts should smell mildly nutty. Bad walnuts will have a smell that resembles paint thinner.

Rattle the shelled walnut. Fresh walnuts should feel heavy when shaken, and the kernel should not rattle.

Examine the shell for tiny wormholes, which expose the walnut to air and create spoilage.


Walnuts can take on the odour and flavours of other foods. Store them away from foods like fish, onions or cabbage.


Rancid walnuts should be discarded.

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About the Author

Stella Oakley is a writer holding a Bachelor of Arts in history from Georgia State University, specializing in Latin America and Islam. A skilled researcher, she also works in a gynecology clinic and a fitness center.