How to Tell If Nuts Are Rancid

Written by liza blau
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How to Tell If Nuts Are Rancid
Learn which signs indicate that nuts have turned rancid. (nuts image by Eric E from

Nuts are not only a delicious snack, they're also full of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Although nuts are high in oil, it's the healthier, unsaturated kind. The bad news is nuts can turn rancid because the unsaturated oils oxidise quickly during exposure to light, heat and air. Nuts that can more easily turn rancid are listed in order of fastest to slowest: walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews and hazelnuts, according to The Washington Post.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Taste one of the nuts. Ask if you can sample a nut if you're in a store and the nuts are sold loose in a bin. If the nut tastes sour or bitter, it has become rancid.

  2. 2

    Smell the nut to learn if it's still fresh. Rancid nuts have an unpleasant fishy odour.

  3. 3

    Visually inspect the nuts. Nuts that have darkened in colour is a sure sign they've turned rancid. Check that the nuts haven't become shrivelled, dry or mouldy in appearance.

  4. 4

    Purchase nuts from a reputable food store that has a high turnover of their products.

Tips and warnings

  • Roasted, chopped and ground nuts tend to go rancid faster than whole nuts.
  • Store nuts still in their shells inside a freezer or refrigerator. Shelled nuts should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark location.

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