Yes, today I want to talk rancidity. Probably not the most appetizing word to bring up in a food blog, but lots of food can go rancid, quickly, and my tips for today are to *prevent* food from becoming rancid.
According to dictionary.com, “rancid” means “having a rank, unpleasant, stale smell or taste, as through decomposition, especially of fats and oils.” Many foods have high oil contents and can therefore go rancid if left out at room temperature. For instance, dairy products, when left at room temperature, can quickly go rancid.
For many of us, the thought of leaving cheese or butter out at room temperature wouldn’t cross our minds. However, our parents or grandparents may recall when such items were left out on the counter, rather than the refrigerator. In fact, SPH’s dad still insists on leaving cheese out on the counter. While I’ve never witnessed anyone falling ill from eating the “counter cheese,” I can assure you it takes just a couple days before the cheese is inedible.
Okay, so probably few of us are leaving our cheese out on the counter. But what about nuts? Many nuts, especially high-oil content nuts such as walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts do much better if you store them in the
refrigerator, or better yet, the freezer. The great thing about storing nuts in the freezer is that it extends their life by months and they thaw at room temperature (due to their high oil content) in mere minutes.
Certain flours and meals can also benefit from being stored in the freezer. In our home, we store our flax seed meal or ground flax seed in the freezer. Flax seed is filled with healthy Omega Oils, and therefore, we keep it chilled. Other items which can be frozen are certain whole grain flours and nut meals, especially if you don’t use it regularly and need to extend its shelf life.
Lastly, since rancidity is common in foods that contain high levels of oil, it only stands to reason that oils themselves can also become rancid. While I have never experienced rancid vegetable or canola oil, sesame oil can quickly become rancid and is best stored in the refrigerator. Even fish oil supplements, which are usually stored without being refrigerated, can go rancid…so make a little room in your fridge for these too.
A quick look around your kitchen can help prevent rancidity in your foods and prevent you from having to toss a food item that’s “rank, unpleasant, or stale.”